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Busch wins Busch race in Texas Busch wins Busch race in TexasKurt Busch held off Greg Biffle on three restarts in the final 14 laps at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, becoming the fifth driver to win in his first NASCAR Busch Series start by capturing the O’Reilly 300.

Busch – forced to display the yellow “rookie stripe” on his rear bumper for this race – was pushed to the front ahead of Jeff Burton by his new crew and fellow rookie, crew chief Matt Gimble following the second caution on Lap 134. It was a lead he would not relinquish.

Series points leader Kevin Harvick seemed to have a dominant car in the early stages of the race, where only two cautions occurred through the first 134 laps. But Harvick, the 2001 series champion, had to wait on his crew to remove a rear window brace and dropped from the lead to eighth place following the first caution on Lap 83 and never recovered.

Despite capturing the lead, Busch was unable to relax as six cautions mired the final 49 laps. Just before the white flag waved to signal the final lap of the race – and a sure victory – Raybestos Rookie Burney Lamar got loose and wrecked, forcing a green-white-checker finish. zzzz

Busch seemed to have saved the best his car had to offer for last, hitting his final restart perfectly and holding off Biffle for good once he came off Turn 3 on the last lap.

Kyle is the more familiar name of the two Busch brothers in the NASCAR Busch Series. However, Kurt, the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, is sharing a partial schedule in the No. 39 Penske Racing South Dodge this season with Ryan Newman. The No. 39 car has won seven of the last 10 races it has entered – Newman won six of nine NASCAR Busch Series races last year.

Kyle Busch finished fourth to his older brother. Biffle, the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion, was second for the third consecutive race at Texas. Casey Mears was third, followed by Matt Kenseth in fifth, Jeff Burton sixth, Paul Menard seventh, Kevin Harvick in eighth, Scott Wimmer ninth and Busch Pole winner Denny Hamlin in 10th.

Kurt Busch joined Dale Earnhardt and Joe Ruttman (1982), Ricky Rudd (1983) and Terry Labonte (1985) as drivers who won in their first NASCAR Busch Series start.

Harvick upped his NASCAR Busch Series points lead to 146, now over second-place Hamlin, who gained one spot. Clint Bowyer moved from fourth to third in the point standings, while J.J. Yeley, who was second entering the race, fell to fourth thanks to a late-race accident. Biffle jumped from 11th to fifth, Kyle Busch followed that major gain by moving all the way from 14th to sixth. Johnny Sauter dropped one place to seventh, followed by Menard in eighth, Jason Leffler in ninth and Jamie McMurray in 10th.

The NASCAR Busch Series heads to Nashville Superspeedway next Saturday for the Pepsi 300.

Zwolsman crash photo Zwolsman crash photoRookie Charles Zwolsman had a hairy looking accident at the end of qualifying for Sunday's Toyota GP of Long Beach.  Zwolsman was slowing down and off the driving line as he approached the last turn (hairpin).  As he swooped down to the inside of the hairpin to get the inside line into the pits, the Team Australia car of Will Power came in too fast, hit him in the back and launched Zwolsman into the air.  Both drivers escaped injury but the accident caused a red flag.
Moran Jr. escapes injury Moran Jr. escapes injuryRocky Moran, Jr. was transported to the Long Beach track medical care center after contact with the #8 and #39 cars in the early stages of the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge at Long Beach today. After evaluation by the doctors and staff at the track facility Moran Jr. was determined to have a bruised leg and a small cut.  We will have a photo later.
Chilton wins BTCC pole at Brands Hatch Chilton wins BTCC pole at Brands HatchTom Chilton has qualified on pole position for Sunday's opening round of the new Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch. But there's been a disaster for reigning Champion Matt Neal (Droitwich) - he'll start from the back of the grid after crashing on his first qualifying lap.

Chilton, driving Vauxhall's Astra Sport Hatch, achieved pole position in a time of 48.975 seconds. The 21-year-old from Reigate said: "It's a great way to start my career with Vauxhall. I got every corner perfect and had no cars in my way. I can't complain."

Lining up alongside Chilton for the start, second on the grid, will be SEAT's Jason Plato (Oxford) whose team-mate James Thompson (Harrogate) will be directly behind in third. Plato and Chilton have exchanged heated words in the run-up to tomorrow's opening round and Chilton reckons Plato's Leon will have a start line advantage, adding: "The SEAT's lighter than my car and, with the camber of start-finish straight, he could nose ahead. It will be very close into the first corner. I need a perfect start. I'm certainly expecting a few little 'love taps'." zzzz

Plato added: "We were a little bit too conservative with our qualifying set-up on the car and we only just got beat. We'd already shown in the practice sessions that our car is the quickest in race trim. I predict a SEAT 1-2 tomorrow."

Lining up fourth on the grid will be the TEAM RAC MG ZS of Colin Turkington (Portadown). Turkington said: "I'm very pleased with that, especially as the team has a new look for 2006. It's a great way to start and hopefully, after what's been said earlier in the week, there'll be a bit of bother in front of me and I can take advantage." 

After winning his first BTCC Drivers' title at Brands Hatch last year, meanwhile, Neal has a mountain to climb from near the back of the grid in 15th. His Integra had just left the pit lane when it suffered brake failure and spun off the track at the Druids hairpin bend.

The 39-year-old said: "I realised I was going way too fast so threw the car sideways - it dug into the gravel trap and almost rolled over. Overtaking is very difficult around here and even getting through the midfield lot will be tough. At least this has happened today. Tomorrow would have meant no points." 

Leading Dunlop MSA BTCC qualifying times, Brands Hatch
1. Tom Chilton (GBR), Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 48.975s
2. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Leon, 49.045s
3. James Thompson (GBR), SEAT Leon, 49.200s
4. Colin Turkington (GBR), MG ZS, 49.210s
5. Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 49.312s
6. Gavin Smith (IRL), Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 49.318s
7. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Integra, 49.334s
8. Mike Jordan (GBR), Honda Integra, 49.443s
9. Rob Collard (GBR), MG ZS, 49.531s
10. James Kaye (GBR), Honda Civic Type R, 49.759s

Wirth wins pole in Long Beach Wirth wins pole in Long BeachOne day made a big difference for Atlantic racer Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar) of Germany.

The 21-year-old series sophomore earned his second career pole Saturday in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, harnessing the speed that he’s shown through the first two days of competition at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Wirth clocked a top time of 1:16.082 (93.121 mph) with about six minutes remaining in the 30-minute qualifying session and just two minutes later rookie Luis Schiavo (#8 Asfaltadora Maracay/Energy Freight/UP Racing) made contact with a tire wall on the Long Beach street circuit. The incident and the ensuing cleanup brought a premature end to the qualifying session as Wirth emerged with the top time among all 29 Atlantic drivers this weekend and will start on the point in tomorrow’s Atlantic season opening race in Long Beach (tape-delayed on SPEED on Sunday, April 16 at 1 p.m. ET).

The blistering lap also established a new series one-lap record at Long Beach, surpassing the mark of 1:16.267 (92.895 mph) set by former series champion and current Champ Car driver AJ Allmendinger in 2003. The result marked a sharp contrast to Friday when Wirth crashed halfway through qualifying after running among the top drivers, eventually finishing 16th overall. zzzz

Raphael Matos (#6 Pro Works) was in hot pursuit of Wirth for the top time of the day as the first-year Brazilian Sierra Sierra Enterprises pilot wound up with the second-fastest time overall of 1:16.149 (93.039 mph) – a mark that also topped Allmendinger’s previous course record. Matos led the morning Atlantic practice session at Long Beach and battled for the fastest lap throughout the course of the day.

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) will start second in Sunday’s race after claiming Friday’s provisional pole. The Team Australia rookie carded the third-fastest lap in the second round of qualifying, getting around the 1.968-mile circuit in 1:16.575 (92.521 mph).

After finishing third in Friday qualifying, American Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Dynacor) will start on the outside of the front row Sunday, claiming fourth in the qualifying order with a lap of 1:16.583 (92.511 mph). Wirth’s Forsythe Championship Racing teammate James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK) completed the top-five qualifiers after he carded a time of 1:16.589 (92.504 mph).

The youngest driver in the largest Atlantic field in seven years competing this weekend, 16-year-old Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK) of the Forsythe team, posted a time of 1:16.775 (92.280 mph) for the sixth-fastest lap.  American Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) was seventh in the order at 1:16.843 (92.198 mph) while South Africa’s Stephen Simpson (#14 Western Union/Diamon-Fusion/Gelles Racing) was eighth at 1:16.862 (92.176 mph).

With a lap of 1:16.871 (92.165 mph), Norbert Siedler (#10 Palfinger/Sonax/Remus) of Austria qualified ninth while British racer Tim Bridgman (#2 Epson) rounded out the top 10 after posting a time of 1:17.052 (91.948 mph).

The top 10 drivers in qualifying posted times that were separated by less than a second while 27 of the 29 drivers topped their qualifying times from Friday.

Sunday, the Atlantics will hit the track at 8:35 a.m. PT for a 15-minute warm-up session. The first green flag of 2006 will fly for the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic race on the streets of Long Beach at 10:35 a.m. The race is scheduled for 32 laps (62.976 miles) or 50 minutes. Follow all of the action from Long Beach on the Internet through the live timing link on the official web site of North America’s top open-wheel development series, www.champcaratlantic.com.

Pos Driver Car# Team Lap Time
1 Andreas Wirth  37 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:16.082
2 Simon Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 1:16.575
3 Raphael Matos 6 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:16.149
4 Jonathan Bomarito 23 PR1 Motorsports 1:16.583
5 James Hinchcliffe 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:16.589
6 Richard Philippe 33 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:16.775
7 Graham Rahal 18 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:16.843
8 Stephen Simpson 14 Gelles Racing 1:16.862
9 Norbert Siedler 10 Brooks Associates Racing 1:16.871
10 Tim Bridgman 2 Epson Team Jensen  1:17.052
11 Danilo Dirani 1 Condor Motorsports 1:17.096
12 Alex Barron 21 Polestar Racing Group 1:17.135
13 Robbie Pecorari 28 Gelles Racing 1:17.249
14 Leonardo Maia 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:17.464
15 Alan Sciuto 12 Polestar Racing Group 1:17.592
16 Charles Hall 16 Transnet Racing 1:17.663
17 Justin Sofio 26 Mathiasen Motorsports 1:17.783
18 James Davison 5 Team Australia 1:17.800
19 Luis Schiavo 8 Brooks Associates Racing 1:17.941
20 Al Unser 30 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:18.113
21 Daniel Gaunt 35 Newman/Wachs Racing 1:18.144
22 Joe D'Agostino 34 Newman/Wachs Racing 1:18.172
23 David Martinez 4 US RaceTronics 1:18.539
24 Kyle Kelley 9 McAtee Motorsports 1:18.587
25 Ryan Spencer-Smith 25 NCDL Tech 1:18.669
26 Mike Forest 32 PR1 Motorsports 1:19.118
27 Dan Selznick 49 The Room Store 1:19.868
28 Duncan Ende 55 Bite Racing 1:21.286
29 Brian McAtee 19 McAtee Motorsports 1:22.343

Seen in Long Beach - VI Seen in Long Beach - VISpotted Michael Andretti walking through the Champ Car paddock and it's assumed he is here looking forward to a return in 2007.......Chip Ganassi has now gone on record as saying if there is not a merger between Champ Car and the IRL he is out of open wheel racing.......AutoRacing1.com interviewed Bobby Rahal and his son Graham today (look for the interview after Sunday) and Bobby said essentially the same thing.........We spotted Gerald Forsythe meeting privately with Paul Newman. Mark C. 
Progress continues on Otaru GP of Japan Progress continues on Otaru GP of JapanUPDATE See full story regarding the Otaru GP on our Home Page.

04/08/06 Otaru Grand Prix officials made a formal presentation to the media this morning in Long Beach. We will have a full story later, but the key points are that 1) the race now has full government support and Otaru's Redevelopment Council sees the race as a way to help turn the aging economy in Otaru around, 2) the 2-mile waterfront track has been designed and will soon be submitted to FIA for approval, 3) It will be the first-ever street race in Japan, 4) a race in September or October is the goal, 5) they hope to get Champ Car approval by  August of the year prior to the first race, 6) a lot hinges on Honda's goals if there were to be a Champ Car/IRL merger as they own both Motegi, and Suzuka which recently lost their F1 race to Toyota owned Fuji. Here is a PDF file that gives you some of ideas of how the Otaru GP concept has been presented in Japan.

Rossi wins in Qatar Rossi wins in QatarValentino Rossi took the win in the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar today, on a hot but windy day at the Losail Circuit. The seven times World Champion came from seventh on the grid to win at the circuit for the second time in his career, taking the lead from pole-man Casey Stoner on lap ten.

Nicky Hayden briefly led the race, before Rossi took back the lead and put some distance between the two, nearly a second at the end of the race.

Loris Capirossi was once again on the podium, leaving him as the series leader after adding to his win in the opening race of the season. Team-mate Sete Gibernau was fourth, ahead of Casey Stoner. Stoner couldn’t quite manage to hold on for a podium place having led for a third of the race.

A fierce battle raged behind the young Australian for sixth. Dani Pedrosa and Marco Melandri involved in a back-and-forth tussle from start to finish, ahead of Toni Elias.

Colin Edwards and Kenny Roberts Jr. rounded off the top ten, whilst the retirees were Randy de Puniet through a crash and both Suzuki riders John Hopkins and Chris Vermeulen through mechanical problems.

Speed Racer roars into Champ Car with Mi-Jack team Speed Racer roars into Champ Car with Mi-Jack teamNew York, NY – New York City-based toy manufacturer Art Asylum, Inc. announced today that they are teaming up with Indianapolis-based Mi-Jack Conquest Racing to debut the Speed Racer-themed car in the Champ Car World Series 2006 Season at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8th – 9th.  The #27 Speed Racer (Lola), driven by Canadian Andrew Ranger and the #34 Speed Racer (Lola) driven by Charles Zwolsman, will be a first for the Speed Racer property, which is celebrating its’ 40th Anniversary this year.  

Speed Racer Enterprises and Art Asylum have created a unique product line based on of the classic Speed Racer animated television property including toys, collectibles, animated promos, and music, which will rollout beginning June 2006.  Art Asylum will create animated promos that will be launched this summer, followed by DVD’s that will be packaged with the new toy line hitting retail stores in the fall of 2006.  Additionally, a follow-up soundtrack will hit stores in the fourth quarter of 2006, with all new music from some of today’s hottest artists.

Ranger, who is considered one of the sport's most gifted young drivers today, will appear in the new Speed Racer animated promos as well as his teammate, Charles Zwolsman, the 2005 Atlantic Series Champion.

"I saw a great opportunity for this team and the sport,” said Ted Dobrzynski, Director of Operations for F1Play Inc., who introduced Art Asylum to Mi-Jack Conquest Racing.  “It was just such a natural fit to have the beloved Speed Racer property participate in the Champ Car World Series,” said Dobrzynski.  “We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Art Asylum.”  zzzz

In addition to Mi-Jack Conquest Racing and F1Play, Inc., Art Asylum has brought on board a myriad of new partners in order to facilitate the new brand strategy under Art Asylum Productions, LLC.  They include Jeff Nodleman and Creative Group for animation promo production, Joseph “Tramp” Daly and Newton Cohen to oversee the music and production efforts, Stone America Licensing and International Truck and Engine Corporation for new vehicle incorporation, Casey Lau and his company, Hyperchild for character development and online strategies, Urban Youth Racing School, and NBA star and Philadelphia 76er Samuel Dalembert and his manager, Teddy Pendergrass Jr., as lead investors into the project via their company, Synergy Enterprises, LLC.

About Art Asylum
Manhattan, New York based Art Asylum was founded by Digger and Donna Soldano in 1996 as a creative, design studio providing premier work service to the toy industry. In 2001, the company partnered with Adam Unger and the founders of Play Along Toys, Inc., to launch a successful boy’s action toy company that created products for major brands like Star Trek, Tony Hawk, Bruce Lee, Kiss and built the MiniMates toy brand that continues on to this day.  In 2005, after Play Along’s successful sale to Jakks Pacific (JAKK) the company continued it’s progress and has moved on as a fully integrated toy manufacture. In 2006, Art Asylum will be launching with several new licenses including Speed Racer, Madballs from American Greetings, Battlestar Galactica, and Clive Barker’s Jump Tribe. Visit www.artasylum.com and www.speedracerlives.com for more information.

About Speed Racer Enterprises
Based in Santa Monica, California, Speed Racer Enterprises was formed in 1991 and owns the worldwide rights to the Classic Speed Racer animated television property. The company also manages all television distribution, merchandising, licensing and promotional activities for the property. For more information visit www.speedracer.com.

About F1Play Inc.
Based in Toronto, Canada, F1Play, Inc. (www.F1Play.com and www.F1PlaySport.com) is a community dedicated to the fans of the world’s fastest and most exciting sport.  Their mission is to translate the burning passion for the speed, sounds, sights and smells of the racetrack into a web community for our friends across the globe to appreciate and enjoy

The F1Play Sport division focuses on strategic partnerships and sponsorship marketing in the motor sport industry spanning across 5 continents.  Based in Toronto, Canada, F1Play Sport specializes in providing companies with numerous marketing/branding opportunities through one of the world’s most viewed and passionate promotional vehicles.

About Mi-Jack Conquest Racing
Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, Conquest Racing was founded in 1997 by Eric Bachelart, the 1991 Indy Lights Champion. The team competed for five seasons in Indy Lights before moving to the Indy Racing League in 2002 as Mi-Jack Conquest Racing when Mike Lanigan become co-owner of the team.  MJCR rejoined the Champ Car family in 2003, stepping up to the Champ Car World Series where the are contesting their fourth season with rookie driver Charles Zwolsman of Holland and Canadian Andrew Ranger. For more information visit www.conquestracing.com.

Mercedes dominates DTM qualifying Mercedes dominates DTM qualifyingWatched the DTM qualifying from Hockenheim and noticed they are also using a new qualifying format, very much like the F1 format this year. It's worked pretty well, quite a bit of drama and angry drivers who didn't make it to the next round etc. It's a Mercedes sweep again, with Jamie Green, Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler up front. No surprise really.
Seen in Long Beach - V Seen in Long Beach - VOne observation by this opinionated editor is that Jonathan Bomarito and Graham Rahal are two young American drivers with a great future ahead of them. Both not only have what it takes to drive fast, but they are very well spoken....a sponsor's dream.

What's most impressive about 18-year old Rahal is the fact that he's still in high school and has to skip classes to race on weekends, yet can sit in front of a room full of journalists and respond to any number of questions during a press conference succinctly and enthusiastically. Some college graduates could not handle themselves so well in front of an audience like that.

Bomarito, who is a few years older than Rahal, is even more polished, yet is completely honest and open and responds as if a 50-year old veteran.  With the stiff competition out on the race track, in what can only be described as the deepest field in series history, the new Champ Car Atlantic series is teaching these young drivers how to handle themselves both on and off the race track. Mark C.

Kinser flips for 2nd race in row Kinser flips for 2nd race in rowWorld of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser's car got flipped for the second straight IROC race, but this time his wild ride ended with the wheels down on the pavement.

In the first IROC race at Daytona in February, Kinser's car was flipped into the air and slid on its roof after contact with ARCA driver Frank Kimmel pushed him into the back of Max Papis. It took 12 minutes for track safety workers to remove Kinser from his car, cutting away part of the door roll cage to get him out, but he had only minor injuries.

With eight laps to go at Texas, Papis slid up high into Scott Sharp. The front end of Papis' car then bounded off the wall and back into the middle of the track, striking Kinser.

Kinser's car rolled over twice, but settled on its wheels. He was checked out at the infield care center, and was smiling when he walked out only a few minutes later.

"There it went again," Kinser said. "I don't know what to say." USA Today

McLaren complete extensive Paul Ricard test McLaren complete extensive Paul Ricard testTesting came to a close at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track today, with Team McLaren Mercedes having completed an intensive three day session putting in over 2,825km in total.

The weather conditions all week were sunny and clear allowing the test team to maximize running on the track, which was in the 3E-SC (Short) configuration at 3.8km.

Today's eight hours of running in the south of France saw Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett continue their programs for the week. Pedro, in the MP4-21, worked on front suspension, dampers and set-up alongside Michelin tire testing for San Marino. Meanwhile Gary focused on additional Michelin development in the interim MP4-20.

Pedro covered 450km today, over the course of 120 laps, and put in the third quickest time of the day, with a 1m04.591. Gary, who ended the day in fourth position on the timesheets with a 1m04.899, completed 620kms.

The test began on Wednesday and following a couple of hours in the garage as a result of a fuel pressure problem, Pedro set about completing over 397km without any interruptions. Thursday saw Pedro set the fastest time of the day, a 1m04.231, and cover 561km. With today's running, Pedro's total kilometers for the session has reached 1,416, as the team pushed forward with the development program of the MP4-21. zzzz

This saw the Spaniard complete his scheduled program for the week, with the V8 in his car covering over 1,400km, equating to more than four race distances and more than the average running of two race weekends.

Gary has also been completing significant mileage during the week, putting in 1,420km in total over the three days, as he continued the Michelin selection and development program.

Pedro de la Rosa
"This has been an intensive and productive three days of testing at Paul Ricard. I have been working with the test team on a range of development programs with MP4-21, including damper work for San Marino, front suspension and some more general set-up work. We are continuing to make positive progress, which we will carry over to next week when Kimi and Juan Pablo will be testing at Barcelona before the return to racing at Imola."

Gary Paffett
"My week has again been fully focused on Michelin development work. With the mileage we have covered, we have been able to complete a number of activities within the program, including the final stages of Imola selection. We used one engine since I started the test and we did quite a few more miles than you usually do over the course of two race weekends." Press Release McLaren Mercedes

Renault happy with Paul Ricard test Renault happy with Paul Ricard testGiancarlo Fisichella finished today the testing program of the Renault F1 Team in the south of France.

At the wheel of the R26 04 chassis, the Italian was able to run his program without any major problem and remained focused on tire development with Michelin for the first European races. The team seemed to be very pleased by the data and the performance of Fisichella as he was all day long on top of the lap-time table. He finally set the second fastest lap-time in 1:04.327 and covered 160 laps today.

The Renault F1 Team will leave the Castellet tomorrow to reach Barcelona where he will continue his program next week with his two race drivers at the wheel of the R26, Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso.

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer "A very good day after two busy days here in Paul Ricard. We completed today our program to prepare Imola and the tire work was very encouraging. Giancarlo did a great job once again and seemed to be very satisfied with the car and its behavior to set up changes and to the new envelops.
We are going to Barcelona next week which promise to be a very busy session!" Press Release Renault

Piquet Jr. easily wins race 1 in Valencia Piquet Jr. easily wins race 1 in ValenciaNelson Piquet Jr has made the perfect start to his season by storming to victory from pole position in the first race of the GP2 series, finishing 16.6 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Valles. The Brazilian controlled the race masterfully from the front after a strong start ahead of a slow starting Tristan Gommendy, which gave him some breathing space on the first lap ahead of a string of fast laps to build up a healthy lead over fast starting Valles, who was up to second from fourth on the grid at turn one.

Hamilton was slow to get off the line from third, dropping to seventh by the end of lap one, but was then able to push hard to fight his way back up the order.

By the end of lap four the order at the front was establishing itself, with Piquet pulling away from Valles, Ernesto Viso benefiting from his team-mate's retirement in third, Alex Premat, Jose Maria Lopez and Hamilton, who stopped early on lap seven to give himself some space on the track and try to move up through pit stop strategy.

Teammate Premat was in on the next lap, followed by Viso, but up at the front Piquet was building up a big lead to take into his stop, which came and went in a flash on lap twelve. Further back Adam Carroll was in the wars, with his car looking like something of a handful. The Racing Engineering driver was all over the back of Fairuz Fauzy, who was in the Ulsterman’s Super Nova of last year, but just didn’t have the drive to push past. zzzz

Piquet came out in sixth place and pushed as hard as he could – it was the vital period of the race for the Brazilian, and he rolled off a string of quick laps while he waited for local favorite Valles to pit from first place. The Spaniard was in on lap sixteen, but a slow stop dropped him down behind the ART Grand Prix pair, who were third and fourth on the road but filling the potential podium behind Piquet with Olivier Pla and Carroll yet to make their stops.

When the stops were finally over Piquet was 13.8 seconds to the good over Premat, who had Hamilton all over his tail and looking for a way by, and Valles four seconds behind them. Zuber and Lapierre were next up, having a huge battle for fifth, which was resolved when the Frenchman got inside his rival and bumped him off track.

Meanwhile Carroll, with his car far more to his liking after his stop, was on a charge through the grid, fighting his way past Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi, denying the commonly held idea that the tight circuit would not allow overtaking.

On lap 30 the pressure Hamilton had been applying to his teammate paid off – Premat went too deep under braking into turn one and ran through the gravel trap, letting Hamilton and Valles through in the process.

The Frenchman was now falling into the clutches of countryman Lapierre, who blew past on lap 35, with Premat running wide one lap later, falling down to eighth and clearly struggling.

With two laps to go Carroll muscled his way past Xandi Negrao, but a slow run at the back of the circuit allowed the Brazilian to see a gap that wasn’t really there – he tapped Carroll into a spin to regain his position, and the Racing Engineering car was clearly worse for wear as a result.

But up at the front Piquet was serenely dominating the race, taking the checkered flag well ahead of Hamilton and Valles, who were followed across the finish line by Lapierre, who also claimed a point for the fastest lap of the race.

Rounding out the points were Lopez, Gimmi Bruni, Michael Ammermueller and Viso, who snuck past the ailing Premat to claim the final point and tomorrow’s pole position for race two.


Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports 1h 03:15.360
 2. Hamilton ART Grand Prix + 16.655
 3. Valles Campos Racing + 19.490
 4. Lapierre Arden International Ltd + 31.309
 5. Lopez Super Nova International + 33.526
 6. Bruni Trident Racing + 33.994
 7. Ammermueller Arden International Ltd + 35.387
 8. Viso iSport International + 48.275
 9. Premat ART Grand Prix + 53.028
10. Pla DPR + 59.040
11. Perera DAMS + 1:05.229
12. Monfardini DAMS + 1:11.427
13. Negrao Piquet Sports + 1:11.719
14. Carroll Racing Engineering + 1:14.261
15. Fauzy Super Nova International + 1 Lap
16. Glock BCN Competicion + 1 Lap
17. Di Grassi Durango + 1 Lap
18. Villa Racing Engineering + 3 Laps


 Driver Team Laps
 Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 27
 Zuber Trident Racing 23
 Filippi FMS International 15
 Porteiro Campos Racing 7
 Hernandez Durango 4
 Gommendy iSport International 2
 Piccione DPR 1
 Tahinci FMS International 0

Fastest lap: Lapierre, 1:22.168 on lap 9 GP2

Track News
Daredevil injured in bike stunt Daredevil injured in bike stuntUPDATE A daredevil motorcycle stunt rider who landed face-first onto asphalt during a Thursday night Motocross show was released from St. Mary Medical Center on Friday, a hospital spokeswoman said.  Fans were shocked when they saw Andy "Backstreet" Jones, 21, hit the ground after completing a high-flying back-flip during the Red Bull TNT Freestyle Motocross show, which was part of a kickoff event for this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. But Kathleen O'Guin of St. Mary Medical Center said Jones was released from the hospital on Friday.  Jones was injured when his bike landed awkwardly onto its front tire on a landing ramp, which sent Jones over the handlebars and onto the street. Authorities said Thursday that Jones was in good condition, and was being treated for minor head and neck injuries. Press Telegram

04/07/06 Fans on Pine Avenue witnessed a horrific crash Thursday evening when a daredevil motorcycle rider hit the asphalt face-first after completing a high-flying backflip on his bike.

The injured rider, identified as Andy "Backstreet" Jones, 21, was listed in good condition late Thursday at St. Mary Medical Center, where he was being treated for minor head and neck injuries, authorities said.

The Red Bull TNT Freestyle Motocross show was part of Tecate Thunder Thursday on Pine, an event that draws 5,000-plus to the street to kick-start the three-day Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend.

The street scene, which stretched from Fourth Street to Broadway, included a pit crew competition, live music, classic car show and street performers.

The motocross show began at 8 p.m. and was delayed several minutes later following Jones' faceplant, which occurred as he completed a difficult back-flip on his motorcycle during a 76-foot long jump at Third and Pine.

The bike landed awkwardly on its front tire on the landing ramp and Jones was sent over the handlebars and onto the street.  More at Long Beach Press Telegram

Respect earns respect Respect earns respectWhile CART may have retired AJ Foyt's famous No. 14, Champ Car, which is a new company, did not.  Therefore, Champ Car allowed CTE Racing - HVM to have the No. 14 to go along with their No. 4 car.  While this may ruffle a few feathers over in the AJ Foyt camp, the fact of the matter is that Foyt has done nothing but badmouth Champ Car.  Respect earns respect as they say.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
12:00am-12:30am SPEED
Inside Drag Racing  
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Fort Worth
11:00am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NHRA 2Day Las Vegas
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Fort Worth
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
MotoGP World Championship  Qatar
2:00pm-3:00pm SPEED
MotoGP 250 Qatar
3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Star Mazda Series Sebring
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
Champ Car Long Beach
4:00pm-6:00pm (L) NBC
Arenacross Denver
5:00pm-6:00pm ESPN2
AMA Supercross 125cc Houston
6:00pm-7:00pm ESPN2
Speed News Sunday  
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Las Vegas
7:00pm-10:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Fort Worth
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
James Stewart (AMA Supercross)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Champ Car preview show to air Saturday night Champ Car preview show to air Saturday nightUPDATE Reminder that this show will air Saturday night.

04/05/06 With the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener just days away, Champ Car and AMS Productions have collaborated to produce “Champ Car Driver,” an hour-long Champ Car season preview show which will air on SPEED, Saturday, April 8 at 11:00 p.m. EDT.

Two “Champ Car Driver” cameras joined the inaugural Champ Car Turbo Tour and combining those interviews and footage with highlights from last season the show gives an entertaining and comprehensive look into the upcoming season.

“The Champ Car Turbo Tour brought Champ Car to our North American race markets and now 'Champ Car Driver' is bringing the excitement of the tour to all of our fans on SPEED,” said Steve Johnson, Champ Car President and CEO.  “This season preview show does a great job capturing the excitement of the Turbo Tour and wrapping a preview of each event into that storyline.”

“Champ Car Driver” chronicles the five day trip in series' co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven’s Gulfstream G550 including a fan forum in Portland, a Toronto Raptors game and a trip to RodeoHouston.  The show also features segments away from Champ Car including Paul Tracy fulfilling his need for speed in his 170-mph Skater boat.

The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opens on the streets of Long Beach on April 7 with first round qualifying.  The Bridgestone Pole Award will be given on Saturday, April 8 and the 2006 season hits full throttle at 4:00 p.m. ET when the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes the green flag.  Fans who can’t make it to Long Beach can watch the race live on NBC Sports. Champ Car

Pagenaud wins provisional pole for Atlantic race Pagenaud wins provisional pole for Atlantic race
Merger must be done by August Merger must be done by AugustKevin Kalkhoven told SPEEDTV.com that a merger must be done by August if Champ Car and the IRL are to run a unified schedule in 2007. He continues to reiterate that "it is important they do it right. The worse thing that can happen is for us to merge and then separate again."

In conversation with AutoRacing1.com Kalkhoven said, " There are still some major hurdles to overcome for a merger to happen. And if we were to merge, some people think that it will immediately be some sort of Silver Bullet. A merger would be good, but there will still be a lot of work to do afterward to return open wheel racing to where it once was. I think we need to temper people's expectations just a bit."

Diaz wins Grand-Am pole Diaz wins Grand-Am poleMexican Luis Diaz claimed his third career Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve pole Friday afternoon, establishing a Daytona Prototype track record in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with a lap time of 1:19.891 (88.681 mph) in the second of two qualifying sessions, and will lead the field in tomorrow's inaugural Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach (SPEED, 9:00 p.m. ET).

It is the first pole for Diaz since the penultimate race of the 2005 season at Virginia International Raceway, and the first time the No. 01 Lexus started from the front since the Mexico City 250 two races ago. In each instance, Diaz and co-driver Scott Pruett scored overall victories.

"This car has been fast all week and the team has done a great job getting ready for this big event," said Diaz. "Tomorrow will be a very competitive race, and us drivers that have experience on the track will try to use that advantage. The key today was getting a clear and clean lap." zzzz

Diaz made two Toyota Atlantic Series starts on the Long Beach street circuit--in 2002 and 2003--finishing sixth in 2003. Pruett is also familiar with the 1.97-mile, 11-turn course, having made 11 professional starts at the venue, including a Trans-Am Series victory in 1987.

"Scott tells me little tricks about every track he's been to and how it can make me faster," said Diaz. "He's a great co-driver and I am lucky that he's on my team. It was tricky getting used to these cars on this tight track, but if there's anyone that can help me through it, it's Scott."

Diaz and Pruett look to continue their climb in the Daytona Prototype driver standings this weekend in the Rolex Series' first visit to the famed Long Beach street course, and the first street course race for the series in its six-year history. The duo currently sits in a four-way tie for third place in the standings, just five points behind leader Jorg Bergmeister (81-76).

Patrick Long qualified the No. 23 Hirewise/10th & M Seafoods Porsche Crawford second for Alex Job Racing, posting his best lap time of 1:20.080 (88.472 mph) on the final lap of the first qualifying session. In a special qualifying format for the Grand American Challenge of Long Beach, the 26 entered Daytona Prototypes were split into two separate 25-minute qualifying sessions.

Jan Magnussen--substituting this weekend for defending Daytona Prototype co-champion Wayne Taylor--will start third in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley after also posting his best lap time of 1:20.255 (88.279 mph) on his final lap in the first session. Magnussen will share the No. 10 machine this weekend with Taylor's co-driver in last season's championship run, Max Angelelli, who returned Friday night from Texas Motor Speedway, where he finished sixth in Round 2 of the Crown Royal IROC Series.

Starting fourth will be Michael McDowell in the No. 19 Playboy/Uniden/Palms Ford Crawford, who posted a lap time of 1:20.279 (88.252 mph) in the first session. Brazilian Mario Haberfeld will start fifth in the No. 12 Lowe's Fernandez Racing Pontiac Riley, qualifying at 1:20.665 (87.830 mph). Points leader Bergmeister will see the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley he shares with Colin Braun start 13th, as Braun qualified the machine at 1:21.984 (86.417 mph).

The Daytona Prototypes will have a 20-minute morning workout Saturday morning in preparation for the green flag to drop on the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge at 4:00 p.m. local time. Live Timing & Scoring data will be available for all on-track activity at Grand American's website, www.grandamerican.com. Grand-Am

Stewart wins IROC race in Texas Stewart wins IROC race in TexasFT. WORTH – Reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Tony Stewart held off Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. to take his third career IROC victory. Watch the replay of the event on SPEED at 1:00am tonight.

Pos. Driver Laps Status
1 Tony Stewart 67 Running
2 Ryan Newman 67 Running
3 Martin Truex Jr. 67 Running
4 Mark Martin 67 Running
5 Matt Kenseth* 67 Running
6 Max Angelelli 67 Running
7 Scott Sharp 67 Running
8 Frank Kimmel 67 Running
9 Ted Musgrave 67 Running
10 Max Papis 59 Accident
11 Steve Kinser 59 Accident
12 Sam Hornish 47 Mechanical

Christmas comes early for Kalkhoven Christmas comes early for KalkhovenLong Beach, Calif. - Christmas came early for Champ Car World Series owner Kevin Kalkhoven at this year's Grand Prix of Long Beach with the presentation of a Panoz Esperante GTLM on Friday from Dr. Don Panoz, founder of the Panoz Motor Sports Group. The Panoz Esperante GTLM was presented by Scott Atherton, President and CEO of Panoz Motor Sports Group.

The Panoz Motor Sports Group, located in Braselton, Ga., is one of the world's leading and most diverse motorsports corporations. It features entities such as Panoz Automotive Development, which builds the exotic, high-tech Esperante sports car and Elan Motorsports Technologies. EMT is a multi-faceted race car and engine building company comprised of Elan Composites, Elan Power Products, Elan Precision Products and Van Dieman.

Elan Motorsports Technologies recently was chosen by Champ Car to be its exclusive chassis provider beginning for the 2007 season.

Bourdais to marry Bourdais to marryTwo-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais recently got engaged and will marry his longtime girlfriend Claire Ragot on May 6th in LeMans, France. Both Sebastien and Claire are from LeMans. The honeymoon will be in Houston where Bourdais races the next weekend. The real honeymoon will be in September during the break in the Champ Car schedule. Congratulations to the couple. Photo to right by Mike Levitt/LAT for Champ Car
Indy 500 a Hot Ticket Indy 500 a Hot TicketWhen it comes to "hot tickets" for premium seats at U.S. sporting events and venues, the Indianapolis 500 is sizzling, according to USA TODAY.

A story about the top 10 premium seats in American sports was published April 7 in the Travel section of the nation's largest newspaper, and the Indianapolis 500 was on the list. Both the print and online editions of the paper placed "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" atop the list and also accompanied the story with a photo of Dan Wheldon taking the checkered flag in 2005.

In the story, Mike Domek, CEO of online ticket broker ticketsnow.com, described the 10 best sporting events and venues where fans can obtain seats at premium vantage points. The section about the Indianapolis 500 read:

Finish Line Suite at the Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway

There you are, in an audience of "200,000 people, (but) you're in an air-conditioned suite, enjoying catered food and drinks, (yet) you still feel in the thick of it," Domek says. The suite is "close to the action. It's equivalent to the second level; you can see into the stands behind you and into the pits," where the cars are refueled and their tires changed. "They have radios, so you can listen to the drivers and crews." May 28 is the 90th Indy 500 race. zzzz

The Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were the only motor race and speedway on the list. The other nine events and venues:

."Green Monster" section, Fenway Park, Boston
.13th green, "Amen Corner" at The Masters, Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club
.The bleachers for a game against the rival White Sox, Wrigley Field, Chicago
.The 50-yard line at the Texas-Oklahoma game, The Cotton Bowl, Dallas
.Courtside seats at a Lakers playoff game, Staples Center, Los Angeles
.The Clubhouse Suite at the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.
.Mid-court for the Duke vs. North Carolina game, Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.
.The 50-yard line at the Packers-Bears game, Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
.A corner box at the U.S. Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28. The Star and CareerBuilder.com Opening Day is Sunday, May 7, while WorldPoints Visa Pole Day is Saturday, May 13.

Rookie leads SPEED World Challenge debut at LB Rookie leads SPEED World Challenge debut at LBFor the first time in its 16-year history, SCCA Pro Racing’s SPEED World Challenge will make an appearance at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. And, for the first time since 1994, a rookie leads the SCCA SPEED GT Championship, with Lawson Aschenbach coming off his maiden victory at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday.

The 22 year-old from Gaithersburg, Md. no doubt aspired to one day compete at Long Beach, but never imagined that it would come behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 instead of an open-wheel car in either Atlantics or Champ Car.

“I always watched the race because it was such a prestigious event, but I figured I was never going to get there, never going to get to [Champ] Cars,” Aschenbach said. “When I finally started driving cars and realized I had some potential and then I thought ‘maybe this might happen.’” zzzz

SCCA Pro Racing defines a rookie as someone who has competed in no more than three SCCA SPEED World Challenge races in any given season or five in his career. Additionally, drivers with a combined 10 starts in any of a number of recognized professional racing series are not eligible for rookie status, which means SPEED World Challenge rookies are truly new to high-level professional racing.

Not since 1994, when Olimpio Alencar Jr. won the opening round of the World Challenge Championship in a Miami deluge (his only-ever series start), has anyone of that status led the SPEED GT points. Back then, you could even be a pro from another series and qualify for rookie status in World Challenge, as it was only based on participation within the series. It wasn’t until 2001, after former British Touring Car star David Leslie spent a season being called “rookie,” that the rules were tightened up to make the term reflect a newcomer to this level of professional racing. For that reason, when Max Papis, a winner at the highest levels of open wheel and sports car racing, drove in the series in 2005, he did not carry the “Rookie” designation.

Forsythe team adds oil sponsor Forsythe team adds oil sponsorForsythe Championship Racing is proud to announce a partnership with Nippon Oil Corporation and its ENEOS brand of premium lubricants.

ENEOS will be Forsythe Championship Racing’s Atlantic team Official Lubricant Partner, supplying the four-car Atlantic entry with its line of premium-quality lubricants in the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  ENEOS passed the demanding Cosworth engine oil testing process for the new Mazda-Cosworth Atlantic race engine with flying colors and ENEOS lubricants will start the Grand Prix of Long Beach in the team’s 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth power plants, gearboxes and other components.

“We are very proud that a company with the global stature of Nippon Oil Corporation and their premium lubricant brand ENEOS chose to join Forsythe Championship Racing in our effort to capture the 2005 Atlantic Championship,” said Team Owner Jerry Forsythe.  “Nippon Oil Corporation has energy projects around the world and ENEOS is a rapidly growing brand that we are eager to assist in establishing in the North American market.  With state of the art production facilities, unmatched technological expertise and a reputation for premium quality lubricants, we are confident that ENEOS will keep our Mazda engines and gearboxes running strong throughout the season.  We welcome our new partners and look forward to generating success for our team on the track and for ENEOS premium lubricants in the marketplace.” zzzz

“As we establish our premium quality ENEOS lubricant products in the United States, we are excited to be associated with such a professional organization as Forsythe and these four young talented drivers in Champ Car Atlantic, North America’s most competitive and demanding open wheel development racing Series” said Mr. Nobuyuki Tanahashi, General Manager of Overseas Business Department, Nippon Oil Corporation.  “ENEOS is involved in the leading international motor sport championships, and as we establish the ENEOS brand and lubricant products in the United States we saw the Champ Car Atlantic community and Forsythe Championship Racing as the ideal environment and partner to showcase our commitment to quality and competition.”

The 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda gets underway at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.  For more information, please visit the official websites of ENEOS www.eneos.co.jp/english and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship www.champcaratlantic.com.

Seen in Long Beach - IV Seen in Long Beach - IVEx-IRL driver Ryan Briscoe, American F1 driver Scott Speed and IRL/Grand-Am driver Scott Dixon are all here in Long Beach taking in the Champ Car action.
Castroneves drives World Champion's car Castroneves drives World Champion's carPut IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves behind the wheel of a Ferrari and he might not return it exactly at the agreed upon time.  But organizers of this weekend's 14th annual North American Ferrari Challenge Series had one thing in their favor Friday, April 7, when the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion sat in the Ferrari F2002 driven in 2002 by World Champion Michael Schumacher: it was on a closed course.  Castroneves, who won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 2 and is the IndyCar Series points leader, took the car that carried Schumacher to 11 victories and 17 podium finishes for a spin (no pun intended) on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course.  "This is an incredible opportunity to drive a Formula One car," he said. "I'm going to go out and have a good time. It's going to be interesting when they tell me to come in - I might not want to stop driving it."
Backup car for Nemechek Backup car for NemechekOn the first lap of today's practice session at Texas Motor Speedway, Joe Nemechek spun and hit the concrete wall, forcing the #01 U.S. Army team to go with a backup Chevrolet for the rest of the weekend, including today's qualifying session. Nemechek did manage to make a few practice laps in the backup car and was 29th fastest out of the 48 cars entered for Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500. After the practice session, the #01 team put the engine from the primary car into the backup car. "Once we get the primary engine in the backup (car), we should be fast," said Nemechek, who has qualified in the top 10 at the last four Texas races. "I am not really sure why the (primary) car did what it did. I was down low and the car was sticking, and then all of a sudden it was headed to the wall." MB2 Motorsports PR
NASCAR Martinsville TV Rating NASCAR Martinsville TV RatingUPDATE Fox’ coverage of NASCAR’s Nextel Cup DirecTV 500 was up 21.6% from a 'final' 5.1/13 in ’05 and was the highest-rated running of the event since its ’01 premiere.  The Busch race drew a 1.2/4 share on cable station FX.

04/03/06 The overnight TV Rating for the DirecTV 500 at Martinsville Sunday on FOX was a 5.1/12 share, up 10% from last year's 4.6/11 share.

NASCAR Targets Females To Boost Licensed Sales NASCAR Targets Females To Boost Licensed SalesNASCAR, whose licensed merchandise sales “have flattened at $2[B],” believes that it can “boost product sales — and image — by courting female fans,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. NASCAR expects to sell about $250M in merchandise to females this year, up from about $84M five years ago. WSL Strategic Retail President Wendy Liebmann said NASCAR “is one of the hottest brands out there. A lot of middle-American women –- women who shop –-are devoted to the sport.” NASCAR Dir of Business Communications Andrew Giangola indicated that “talks are on with a major maker” for a swimsuit line expected by summer. There are also about 35 styles of NASCAR-branded women’s shoes and boots expected to hit retail by August. Genius Fashion President Shannon Hanna, whose company designed the shoes, “expects sales of up to $50[M] within three years.” Horovitz notes “sales have kept growing” on a NASCAR line of jackets and purses launched by Wilson Leather in ’04, while TrackCouture.com, which signed a licensing deal with NASCAR last year, sells shirts, skirts and hoodies from $25-40. Also, a book titled “The Girl’s Guide to NASCAR” hits stores next month, and Harlequin plans 19 NASCAR-themed romance novels in ’06 after strong sales of two similar books last year. USA TODAY
Montoya coming to grips with McLaren Montoya coming to grips with McLarenJuan Pablo Montoya says he's happy these days with his McLaren.  He has always insisted that the car did not suit his driving style compared to the Williams he was used to.

"I'm happy, and I think I had a little bit better pace than Kimi all weekend," he said. "I came back after qualifying and I said to the guys it's the first time actually I could get in the car and just push it. It was the first time with McLaren that I could do whatever I wanted with the car.   Last year I was just going with the car, now I'm driving the car. Hopefully we can reflect this into the other races. We had a couple of new things on the car, and compared with the engine I had in the last two races, it was a big step. It was revving much better."

Zonta on top at Paul Ricard Zonta on top at Paul RicardRicardo Zonta, running new aerodynamic updates, edged out Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella to top the speed charts at Paul Ricard today.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:04.157 156
 2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:04.258 160
 3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:04.591 120
 4. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:04.899 163
 5. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:04.944 107
 6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:05.673 92
 7. Panis Toyota (B) 1:06.741 60

Champ Car announces "Live Fast" contest Champ Car announces "Live Fast" contestFans can follow all of the action of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford through a television package that includes broadcasts on CBS Sports, NBC and SPEED in 2006, as the top teams and drivers in the world span the globe in pursuit of the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup.

And this season, not only will fans be able to watch their favorite Champ Car drivers, they will have a chance to win trips to join them trackside as part of the new Champ Car "Live Fast" Sweepstakes presented by Bridgestone. The Champ Car World Series, along with series presenting sponsor Bridgestone and media sponsor Auto Week, are providing viewers with an exciting new opportunity to win great prizes for tuning in to Champ Car broadcasts – with the season’s Grand Prize winner receiving a 2006 Ford Mustang GT.

“We are very excited about the opportunity that the Live Fast Sweepstakes presents to Champ Car viewers,” said Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson. “This is one of the most aggressive programs we’ve ever put together for our television viewers and we expect that it will be a huge success. Of course, none of this would be possible without the full support of our sponsor and media partners and we appreciate their participation in this sweepstakes.

The Champ Car "Live Fast" Sweepstakes presented by Bridgestone will incorporate a code word that is revealed during each race broadcast starting with the April 9 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and ending at the September 24 Grand Prix of Road America. Viewers can then enter the sweepstakes by logging onto the official website of the Champ Car World Series www.champcar.ws and entering the code word in the Live Fast Sweepstakes. zzzz

A first-place prize will be awarded at each of the 12 events through a random draw of all the correct entries, with the winner receiving a set of new Bridgestone Potenza Pole Position tires and an all-expenses-paid trip to the next event on the 2006 Champ Car World Series calendar. Ten second-prize winners will receive a year’s subscription to Auto Week as well as a selection of Champ Car merchandise.

At the end of the season, a Grand Prix winner of all of the correct entries throughout the season will win a trip to the season finale in Mexico City as well as the keys to a new Ford Mustang GT.

Loeb leads early in Corsica Loeb leads early in CorsicaReigning world champion, Sebastien Loeb leads the Rallye de France-Tour de Corse, the fifth round in the 2006 FIA World Rally Championship, following the opening leg on Friday.

Loeb took the lead from the off, by going 8.3 seconds quicker than his nearest rival through SS1. Furthermore while his lead was cut to 4.9 seconds heading into the mid-day service after he was only second quickest through SS2, he dominated the repeat runs of both tests this afternoon, winning both and stretching his lead to 19.9 seconds going into the second leg.

Stoner secures maiden pole at Losail Stoner secures maiden pole at LosailWith the return of intense heat to the Losail Circuit, it was left to Casey Stoner to provide the novelty factor in Qatar. The Honda rookie took pole for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar, becoming the second youngest pole-setter behind Freddie Spencer. Stoner clocked a time of 1'55.683, having topped both morning sessions.

Last year's pole man and current series leader Loris Capirossi was close behind the young Australian, as he looks to repeat his Jerez win tomorrow in the desert.

A late surge from Toni Elias put the Spaniard on the front row, as he continues a run of fine form. The official Honda riders will be one row back from Elias, Nicky Hayden fourth and Dani Pedrosa, who suffered a crash at the end of free practice, came in fifth.

World Champion Valentino Rossi will be off the front row for the second successive Grand Prix, having qualified in sixth. The Yamahas had appeared to have made steps forward in the battle with the chattering problem, but with both he and Colin Edwards not in the top three again, separated by Sete Gibernau on the grid, it could be that not all has been resolved. Another rider battling with chatter in Losail was Shinya Nakano, who nonetheless managed to ride his Kawasaki inside the top ten qualifiers, who are completed by yesterday's fastest rider Kenny Roberts Jr.

Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar Qualifying
1. Casey Stoner - LCR Honda 1'55.683
2. Loris Capirossi - Ducati Marlboro 1'55.721
3. Toni Elías - Fortuna Honda 1'55.735
4. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda 1'55.793
5. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda 1'56.008
6. Valentino Rossi - Camel Yamaha 1'56.076
7. Sete Gibernau - Ducati Marlboro 1'56.177
8. Colin Edwards - Camel Yamaha 1'56.230
9. Shinya Nakano - Kawasaki Racing 1'56.237
10. Kenny Roberts Jr. - Kenny Roberts Racing 1'56.272

Bourdais tops opening Champ Car practice Bourdais tops opening Champ Car practiceTwo time defending Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais turned the fastest lap in opening practice for the Toyota GP of Long Beach. Alex Tagliani was 2nd and showed that Team Australia is a force to be reckoned with this year. RuSPORT teammates AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson were 3rd and 4th. Paul Tracy rounded out the top-5.

Pos Driver # Lap Time Mph
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:08.948 102.756
2 A. Tagliani 15 1:09.030 102.634
3 A. Allmendinger 10 1:09.043 102.614
4 J. Wilson 9 1:09.180 102.411
5 P. Tracy 3 1:09.225 102.345
6 B. Junqueira 2 1:09.406 102.078
7 M. Dominguez 7 1:09.570 101.837
8 O. Servia 6 1:09.735 101.596
9 N. Philippe 4 1:09.963 101.265
10 W. Power 5 1:10.167 100.971
11 J. Vasser 12 1:10.277 100.812
12 A. Pizzonia 8 1:10.859 99.984
13 K. Legge 20 1:10.900 99.927
14 D. Clarke 14 1:10.911 99.911
15 A. Ranger 27 1:10.943 99.866
16 J. Heylen 11 1:11.187 99.524
17 C. da Matta 19 1:11.189 99.521
18 C. Zwolsman 34 1:11.732 98.768

Trulli stranded in Oz, other tidbits Trulli stranded in Oz, other tidbits(GMMf1NET) BMW has vowed to bring a slice of F1's pitlane to the people.

The novel 'BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park' - a 120 meter replication of a pit straight and garages - will debut at the Nurburgring next month, with F1 and other cars in action.

It will then reappear at the 2006 Spanish, British, Canadian, Italian and Chinese grands prix.

Elsewhere, Toyota's Jarno Trulli - suffering from 'flu and in a first-lap shunt - had a nightmare end to his journey to Australia.

The Italian wanted to jet back to Europe on Sunday night, but the team ordered him to hang around for a few days because of an ear infection.

The 31-year-old, whilst still 'down under', said: ''Altogether, not a happy weekend.

''Sometime soon my luck has to change. Let's hope it's ... at Imola!''

Cosworth finds improvements Cosworth finds improvementsCosworth has found improvements to its already powerful V8 engine during testing this week at Vallelunga, Italy. The engine manufacturer's principal engineer Sean O'Mahony revealed the team has found a way to make the V8 even more reliable and reduce its fuel consumption. We continued to test some new specification parts at the Vallelunga test aimed at improving reliability," O'Mahony said. "We pushed engine mileages beyond those that we need at races to see what margins we have and generally we are pleased with the results of these tests. We also tried some new engine calibrations aimed at reducing fuel consumption and improving traction control - the test results were positive and we will continue to fine tune these new strategies at Barcelona next week."
Another F1 promoter takes financial bloodbath Another F1 promoter takes financial bloodbathAttendance figures for last weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park were overstated by up to 70,000, it was claimed yesterday.

The Grand Prix Corporation put the official figure for the four-day carnival at 301,800, down from 369,000 last year. But The Age was told that both figures were calculated exaggerations. They incorporated 16,000 accredited people, all counted four times, once for each day, according to a well-placed source.

When all these allowances are made, the official figure of 71,000 for day one becomes more like 40,000. This corresponds with observations on the day. The four-day figure diminishes to about 230,000 paying, attending patrons, nearly 25 per cent fewer than officially claimed.

Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ronald Walker said yesterday: "I'm not the slightest bit interested in hearsay about the Grand Prix Corporation. All I can say is we follow the standards of the industry and we report accurately on what happens."

The Grand Prix Corporation said yesterday its chief executive, Tim Bamford, was on leave. Media spokeswoman Emma Tierney said only that this year's figure was calculated in the same way as all 10 previous Melbourne races. She said the Grand Prix Corporation did not and would not provide details.

Last year's Grand Prix lost $13.6 million. This year, the figure could be as high as $20 million. The Age

Industry News
Ford committed to further growth in China Ford committed to further growth in ChinaFord Motor Company took another important step forward today in its commitment to grow in China by pledging to export more vehicles from the United States to China. Ford's successful, volume export program—which was launched in 2003—will continue to ensure that Ford's operations in China are able to meet customer demand for U.S.-built Ford sport-utility vehicles. The volume export program includes both the Ford Escape, which is sold in China as the Ford Maverick, and the Lincoln Navigator. While the volume of the two models is relatively modest at this time, the U.S.-made products play an important role in dealer showrooms in China: not only do they expand the product offerings and give customers more choice; the two SUVs help define Ford's brand presence in China, as Ford is known as a world leader in trucks and SUVs.

In 2005, Chinese customers purchased 2,787 Ford Mavericks, an increase of nearly 50 percent over 2004 and enough to place Maverick among the best-sellers in the Chinese imported SUV segment. And the sales growth continues: Maverick sales in the first quarter of 2006 were up over 30 percent year-over-year. With 423 sales in calendar year 2005, Lincoln Navigator helped define the market for "President Class," full-size SUVs.

The commitment to continue the export program was marked in a ceremony in Los Angeles attended by a Chinese delegation led by Madam Wu Yi, China's Vice Premier and Minister of Health, and included a number of senior officials from China's Ministry of Commerce. Additionally, Ford used the occasion to further its ongoing commitment to supply parts, components and other vehicle products to its key partners – Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. (CFMA) and commercial truck maker Jiangling Motor Co. Ltd (JMC), in which Ford holds 30 per cent shares. Within the scope of this agreement and in addition to the Escapes and Navigators, Ford has committed to exporting approximately $120 million in parts, components and vehicles to its operations in China. zzzz

Ford Continues to Make Progress in Expanding China Market

"Continuing our export program is just one part of a larger effort to gather momentum for Ford in China," said David Snyder, executive director of Business Strategy for Ford Motor Company's International Operations. "All the pieces are beginning to fit into place – with our completed expansion in Chongqing, our operations in Nanjing currently under construction, and the good sales progress we are making with Changan Auto and with our commercial trucks through Jiangling Motor Corporation. I'm excited to see that we are beginning to achieve the sales and growth we have been working towards."

While SUV sales in China remain important, Ford's best-selling passenger vehicles in China are its award-winning cars: Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo, all of which are produced locally in Chongqing. Mondeo was named "2005 Car of the Year, China" by enthusiast magazine Motor Trend.

With the success of Mondeo and following the launch of Focus in China in the second-half of 2005, customer traffic and overall sales have been growing steadily for Ford. In calendar year 2005, Ford passenger vehicle sales – both import and locally produced – reached a record 64,223 units, an increase of more than 40 percent over 2004 and well ahead of industry growth. Commercial truck sales also soared in 2005, with 18,000 Ford Transits sold, an increase of 48 percent over 2004.

The positive sales trend is continuing in the early part of 2006, with sales of Ford cars and SUVs averaging more than 9000 units a month in the first quarter, more than double the volume in the first quarter of 2005. Including commercial trucks, Ford brand sales in early 2006 are averaging more than 10,000 units a month.

Pacesetting Canadian wraps up pre-season testing Pacesetting Canadian wraps up pre-season testingNurburgring,  Germany  - Canada's Sean McIntosh concluded the final two days of pre-season testing in the World Series by Renault by heading the timesheets at Germany's  Nurburgring  Circuit  on  Wednesday  before  finishing  third  fastest  in  yesterday's final day of practice ahead of the start of the season at Zolder in Belgium, 29th-30th April.

Following mixed fortunes at Le Mans last weekend, set-back by an engine failure on the first day before responding with the seventh quickest time on the second, there were to be no such problems this week as the 20-year-old from Vancouver started to lap the 5.148km German circuit, home of the European Grand Prix, on Wednesday.  Firing on all cylinders from the off, Sean's fastest lap, 1m43.188s, posted him firmly at the top of the timesheets on day one, two tenths of a second faster than his closest challenger from the 30-car field.

While  inclement  weather  conditions  delayed  Thursday  morning's  track  activities,  when  the action resumed Sean was on it again, quickly up to speed in the #6 Team KTR entry.  Opting not to use up another set of Michelins towards the end of the final session, Sean's best lap on Thursday,  a  1m43.248s,  placed  him  third  fastest  on  the  day  with  Wednesday's  hot  lap placing  him  third  overall  on  the  times  set  at  the  test  -  an  encouraging  way  for  the  young Canadian A1 Grand Prix winner to wrap up pre-season testing. Team Canada

track news
European GP to offer fans Pit Lane Park European GP to offer fans Pit Lane ParkMunich/Nürburgring,. The pit lane and team garages at a grand prix represent the inner sanctum of Formula One, which explains why they are kept off limits to the public. And why it is the dream of every F1 fan to one day cast an eye over the sacred ground, ask questions, even get involved in tire changes and developing race strategies. The BMW Sauber F1 Team PIT LANE PARK helps to make the dream come true. This unique theme park will celebrate its premiere at the European Grand Prix on the Nürburgring (5th to 7th May 2006). Doors will open for the first time on the evening of Thursday 4th May, with BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen and BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers on hand to get things underway.

Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Director BMW Central Marketing and Brand Management, said: "The PIT LANE PARK brings Formula One up close and personal. For BMW it is important to offer as many people as possible a live experience with the BMW brand. Here, the fans can sample all those aspects of F1 that they normally only see and hear from a distance - in real time and at touching distance. This is a truly unique project aimed at giving back something to all those people whose interest underpins our sport. I'm delighted that we can unveil the PIT LANE PARK for the first time at the Nürburgring, just a stone's throw away from BMW Erlebniswelt." zzzz

And Mario Theissen added: "This theme park allows us to bring the fans right up close to the sport. That's why we've paid a great deal of attention to authenticity and interaction. You could call it a high-tech adventure park. The fans have told us that they want to get closer to the action, find out more information and experience the sport for themselves. What they're after is an experience to tell their friends and family about, to take home a souvenir or a photo which they can show everybody. And we've come up with some totally new ideas to give the fans what they want. We are very much looking forward to the premiere of the BMW Sauber F1 Team PIT LANE PARK."

Spanning around 5,000 square meters, the park is located in zone A7 at the Nürburgring. Admission is free and the park is open to anybody with either a valid ticket for that particular day at the Nürburgring or a BMW vehicle registration document together with the car keys. The theme park can accommodate a maximum of 16,000 visitors per day and is open from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from Friday to Sunday.

The PIT LANE PARK measures 120 x 45 meters. A 90-metre-long stretch of track leads into a turning area, which is lined by grandstands. A BMW Sauber F1 Team Formula One race car and the smaller Formula BMW cars will take it in turns to power down the track.

The doors of the garages along the edge of the pit lane are kept open, inviting visitors to come in and look around a reconstruction of the real thing. Inside are a selection of cars, some race-ready, others stripped down into individual parts. Here, the fans can compare the weight of a Formula One part with its series production equivalent, or slip into some race overalls and have photos taken in the cockpit. An interactive quiz both tests and improves the visitors' Formula One knowledge, while the Pit Stop Challenge is all about showing off your practical skills. In the driving simulator, meanwhile, it's you against the clock.

Elsewhere, BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers Nick Heidfeld, Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica will be popping by at Speaker's Corner to answer fans' questions in person. And in the last garage is the Fan Shop, packed with the team's merchandise collection.

After the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, the wide-reaching installation will be packed away and reassembled at another five grands prix in 2006: Barcelona, Silverstone, Montréal, Monza and Shanghai. BMW Sauber Team

Grand Prix of Houston Announces Volunteer Program Grand Prix of Houston Announces Volunteer ProgramHOUSTON - Fans enthusiastic about the return of world-class motorsports to Houston can now take an active role in the Grand Prix of Houston, which roars into town May 11 - 13 at Reliant Park. The Grand Prix of Houston announced a new volunteer program today, sponsored by Men’s Wearhouse, which gives participants the opportunity to volunteer their time during this exciting event. Prospective volunteers can now register online at http://www.grandprixofhouston.com.

The Grand Prix of Houston volunteer program includes a variety of job assignments for adults of all ages and abilities. Volunteers will perform essential tasks such as manning information booths, serving as greeters in the grandstands, providing transportation services, and assisting with the track set up.  Volunteers are not required to have any specific skills, although certain assignment areas may be more suitable for particular types of people or volunteers with applicable experience. Volunteers are required to be 18 years of age as of May 11, 2006.

Specific volunteer assignment areas include: Hospitality, Information, Ushers, Credentials, Transportation, Volunteer Services, and Track Services. When registering online, volunteers, who are required to register online, will have the opportunity to indicate their top preferences for assignment area, and based on these preferences each volunteer will be assigned to one area for the entire race weekend. All volunteers will be asked to work at least three six-hour shifts during the race weekend, although some volunteer areas will require a greater time commitment. A full description of volunteer assignment areas and available shifts are available online at http://www.grandprixofhouston.com/volunteer. zzzz

Men’s Wearhouse, the Official Clothier of the Grand Prix of Houston, will be the official sponsor of the volunteer program. “Men’s Wearhouse is proud to support the Grand Prix of Houston and the volunteer program,” said George Zimmer, Founder and CEO of Men’s Wearhouse. “Volunteers are an invaluable part of the Grand Prix of Houston team, and we’re proud that they’ll be wearing top-quality shirts from Twin Hill, our corporate apparel division.”

Program participants will be volunteering their time, but their efforts will not go unrewarded. The Grand Prix of Houston volunteer program includes a great benefits package, and volunteers that meet the minimum requirements will receive a number of benefits including:

*    An official Grand Prix of Houston volunteer credential, providing gate admission, Paddock Access and on-site parking during the event

*    An official Grand Prix of Houston volunteer polo shirt, provided by Men’s Wearhouse
*    One daily meal during their shift, along with beverages and take-away snacks
*    Collectible Grand Prix of Houston lapel pin
*    Two (2) complimentary Thursday general admission Grand Prix tickets
*    Discounts on reserved grandstand tickets to be extended to family and friends
*    A certificate of appreciation
*    Two tickets to the Volunteer Appreciation Party

For more information or to fill out an application form, prospective volunteers can visit http://www.grandprixofhouston.com/volunteer.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Italy, France, host F1 action
More trouble in Maranello camp
Alonso in line for sports award
Ferrari bowed to new tire 'risk'
Ferrari flex furor 'absurd' - engineer
Alonso thinks Schu won't quit
New Aguri delayed - report
DC's 500
Yoong prefers A1 to F1
McLaren set for 'quantum leap'
Gascoyne exit is 'good for Ralf' - report
Hamlin wins Busch pole in Texas Hamlin wins Busch pole in TexasDenny Hamlin earned his first career Busch pole Thursday night with a lap of 187.905 mph at Texas Motor Speedway, where qualifying was dominated by Nextel Cup regulars.
Pos. Car Driver Speed
1 20 Denny Hamlin 187.904
2 41 Reed Sorenson 187.188
3 17 Matt Kenseth 187.123
4 6 Mark Martin 187.007
5 27 David Green 186.987
6 16 Greg Biffle 186.942
7 139 Kurt Busch 186.793
8 9 Kasey Kahne 186.741
9 64 Jamie McMurray 186.258
10 42 Casey Mears 186.188
11 184 David Gilliland 186.181
12 34 Mike Bliss 186.111
13 1 Jason Keller 186.091
14 21 Jeff Burton 186.059
15 77 Burney Lamar* 186.053
16 10 John Andretti* 186.046
17 90 Stephen Leicht 185.931
18 12 Joel Kauffman* 185.720
19 47 Jon Wood 185.644
20 11 Paul Menard 185.644  zzzz
21 33 Kevin Harvick 185.605
22 43 Aaron Fike 185.503
23 88 Mark McFarland* 185.459
24 25 Ashton Lewis 185.452
25 22 Kenny Wallace 185.370
26 50 Danny O'Quinn Jr.* 185.363
27 32 Jason Leffler 185.300
28 14 Tracy Hines* 185.293
29 35 Regan Smith 185.020
30 01 Jay Sauter 184.969
31 66 Scott Wimmer 184.913
32 36 Tim Sauter 184.704
33 5 Kyle Busch 184.540
34 38 A.J. Foyt IV* 184.106
35 18 J.J. Yeley 183.811
36 00 Johnny Sauter 183.786
37 2 Clint Bowyer 183.511
38 06 Todd Kluever* 183.443
39 99 Michael Waltrip 183.219
40 59 Stacy Compton 182.753
41 4 Mark Green 182.402
42 60 Carl Edwards+ -
43 05 Chad Chaffin 182.741
44 0 Kertus Davis 182.229
45 49 Jorge Goeters 181.586
46 23 Chris Wimmer* 180.433
Michael Andretti heads list of late Indy 500 entries Michael Andretti heads list of late Indy 500 entriesMichael Andretti headed a late flurry of entries into the Indianapolis 500.  The co-owner of Andretti Green Racing said earlier he would drive in his son Marco's rookie race at Indy but wasn't entered until his list of 10 cars arrived only hours before the entry deadline Wednesday night.

So far 59 cars and 24 drivers were entered as of Thursday, although the Speedway expected others postmarked before the deadline to arrive by mail through next week.

"Very exciting times for us ... and me personally, obviously, with everything that's going on," said Michael Andretti, who drove at Indianapolis 14 times but retired after the 2003 race to concentrate on running his team. "I think with the team that we have, it's just been a dream these last three years."

Track News
Long Beach honors Gurney and Hill Long Beach honors Gurney and HillDan Gurney, an original founder of the Grand Prix and a world-renowned driver and racing car team owner; and Phil Hill, the first American to win the Formula One World Drivers Championship and an icon of American motorsports, were honored Thursday with medallions embedded into the sidewalk in front of the Long Beach Convention Center on lower Pine Avenue.

The Walk of Fame is designed to honor people who have made extraordinary contributions to motorsports in Long Beach, the Toyota Grand Prix and around the world. Each year the Walk of Fame will induct several new members, Michaelian said.

"It's a way to educate the public about the names and faces and history of racing," Michaelian said. "Now you can see and read the accounts of their achievements."

Gurney raced for 15 years, winning 49 events in Formula One, NASCAR, Sportscars, IndyCars, CanAm and TransAm categories. His company, All American Racers in Santa Ana, has built more than 150 Eagle racing cards and employed 65 racing drivers and won championships in open wheel racing, sports car racing and at the Indy 500 under the driving of Bobby Unser.

Hill won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times, the 12 Hours of Sebring three times, the Grand Prix of Italy twice and the Belgian Grand Prix. He was a television commentator for ABC's Wide World of Sports and editor with Road & Track magazine.

Grand Prix founder Chris Pook said Gurney and Hill were key figures in getting the annual street race started.

"It's absolutely appropriate what you're doing today, recognizing these two men," Pook said.

"We started with four employees and big dreams," said Long Beach founding father Chris Pook. "Thanks to Dan Gurney and Phil Hill, the Long Beach Grand Prix became a reality and this tribute is so well deserved."

Photos by Bruce Hand/AutoRacing1.com

Hamilton and Piquet fastest on Thursday in Valencia Hamilton and Piquet fastest on Thursday in Valencia
Morning times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:18.625 28
 2. Piquet Piquet Sports 1:19.012 41
 3. Lopez Super Nova International 1:19.069 36
 4. Valles Campos Racing 1:19.102 29
 5. Di Grassi Durango 1:19.173 57
 6. Bruni Trident Racing 1:19.194 45
 7. Pla DPR Direxiv 1:19.240 35
 8. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:19.246 34
 9. Lapierre Arden International 1:19.372 29
10. Viso iSport International 1:19.394 48
11. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:19.394 21
12. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:19.529 36
13. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:19.587 32
14. Ammermuller Arden International 1:19.656 40
15. Gommendy iSport International 1:19.674 27
16. Zuber Trident Racing 1:19.694 41
17. Perera Dams 1:19.737 8
18. Filippi FMS International 1:19.861 34
19. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:19.868 50
20. Glock BCN Competicion 1:19.964 23
21. Villa Racing Engineering 1:20.110 38
22. Hernandez Durango 1:20.116 29
23. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:20.135 34
24. Monfardini Dams 1:20.160 38
25. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:20.368 31
26. Tahinci FMS International 1:21.813 39 zzzz

Afternoon times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Piquet Piquet Sports 1:19.445 24
 2. Gommendy iSport International 1:19.770 19
 3. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:20.178 44
 4. Perera Dams 1:20.434 52
 5. Zuber Trident Racing 1:20.444 34
 6. Bruni Trident Racing 1:20.541 19
 7. Valles Campos Racing 1:20.827 53
 8. Di Grassi Durango 1:20.839 32
 9. Lapierre Arden International 1:20.882 34
10. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:20.933 46
11. Glock BCN Competicion 1:20.953 49
12. Filippi FMS International 1:21.070 35
13. Ammermuller Arden International 1:21.148 38
14. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:21.217 27
15. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:21.234 47
16. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:21.286 22
17. Villa Racing Engineering 1:21.415 30
18. Hernandez Durango 1:21.712 50
19. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:21.733 40
20. Lopez Super Nova International 1:21.840 38
21. Pla DPR Direxiv 1:22.032 25
22. Viso iSport International 1:22.353 24
23. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:22.423 18
24. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:22.565 35
25. Monfardini Dams 1:22.601 14
26. Tahinci FMS International 1:22.807 28

TV News
Paul Newman/Jay Leno rematch Paul Newman/Jay Leno rematchUPDATE #2 Paul Newman easily won the rematch race with Jay Leno. Paul beat Jay into the first corner and dominated the two lap race called by Derek Daly. After the race, Jay commented: "I got my ass kicked by an 81 year old guy!" Paul talked about the history of the Long Beach Grand Prix, and the success of the Newman/Haas team. He proudly told Jay about his Hole in the Wall Camps. They discussed the Newman's Own line of food products and how the earnings have gone to countless charities. Paul showed Jay a can of the Newman's Own Organics dog food. Jay bet him that he wouldn't eat any of it, but Paul surprised him and gladly ate several bites. He looked like he enjoyed it and said it was very good! A scene from the new CARS animated Pixar movie was shown where Paul is the voice of a 1951 disgruntled Hudson Hornet.

04/06/06 Reminder that this show airs tonight. MotorVation’s Founder, Derek Daly, once again appears on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno this evening, Thursday, April 6th.  He will be the announcer for the second Kart Race between Leno and his guest, Paul Newman.  Derek announced the first race last year, which Newman won without difficulty.  Tonight, Jay challenges Paul to a rematch.  Newman’s appearance on the Tonight Show and the Kart Race are in conjunction with this weekend’s Long Beach Grand Prix http://www.champcarworldseries.com/FrontPage.asp

04/03/06 Paul Newman will be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Thursday, April 6.  The Tonight Shows airs at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.  Read the news about the Paul Newman Re-Match.

We'll bet he'll have something to say about the Long Beach race this weekend.

Roberts tops MotoGP time sheets Roberts tops MotoGP time sheetsKenny Roberts Jnr is fastest in the first practice session ahead of Saturday's Qatar Grand Prix. The US rider headed the time sheets on his KR211V with a best lap of one minute 56.905 seconds, beating Loris Capirossi's 2005 pole-setting time.

World champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was sixth fastest, behind fellow Italian Capirossi (Ducati) who won the opening race of the season in Jerez.

Qatar MotoGP Thursday first practice times:

1. Kenny Roberts Jr. (US) Team Roberts, 1:56.90
2. Casey Stoner (Aus) Honda, 1:56.91
3. Marco Melandri (Ita) Honda, 1:57.01
4. Colin Edwards (US) Yamaha, 1:57.02
5. Loris Capirossi (Ita) Ducati, 1:57.03
6. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha, 1:57.14
7. Dani Pedrosa (Spa) Honda, 1:57.36
8. Toni Elias (Spa) Honda, 1:57.39
9. Nicky Hayden (US) Honda, 1:57.45
10. Sete Gibernau (Spa) Ducati, 1:57.56

Mi-Jack Conquest confident going into season Mi-Jack Conquest confident going into seasonThe Champ Car World Series kicks off its 2006 season this weekend in Long Beach, California where Mi-Jack Conquest Racing will be amongst the teams looking for a strong finish on the 1.968 mile temporary street course with returning driver Andrew Ranger and rookie Charles Zwolsman.

MJCR is looking forward to a strong start in Long Beach to begin its fourth year of competition in Champ Car. The team has been hard at work since the 2005 season finale in Mexico City. Having announced that Canadian Andrew Ranger would be back with them in Long Beach, and after signing last season’s Atlantic Champion, Dutchman Charles Zwolsman, team co-owner Eric Bachelart knows that the much anticipated results are not too far away.

“We are extremely motivated heading to California. The team did a great job preparing everything for this season and I know that Charles and Andrew will work well together to make MJCR a winning team,” stated Bachelart. “They can surprise a lot of people and be successful in Long Beach. I have plenty of confidence in this pair of incredibly talented drivers.” zzzz

Returning to drive the #27 Tide/Mi-Jack car, Andrew Ranger participated in some motorcycle ice racing events over the course of the cold Quebec winter and is more than ready to be in the heat of the battle at Long Beach.

“It has been five long months since my last race, so I am very anxious to get to Long Beach and get back into the car under racing conditions. We had a good test last week in Fontana which helped me regain my racing form,” said Ranger. “I’m really confident we can get good results here, I know the car better, I know the track and I know the team. Conquest Racing has also worked hard during the off-season to develop the car and make it faster; everything is in place to succeed.”

Newcomer to the team, Charles Zwolsman, knows that a little more knowledge of his #34 Lola/Ford car will only make him better, but that does not stop him from setting some specific goals for himself.

“I’m really excited about competing in my first race with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing. There is still a lot that I have to learn about the car and the team but I feel that MJCR represents the best opportunity for me to gain that valuable experience. I had a good race here last year in Atlantics and I am hoping to have the same kind of performance in a Champ car and start recording points toward the rookie of the year title.”

Zwolsman and teammate Ranger will be on track Friday morning for a 75 minute practice session which will be followed in the afternoon by their first qualifying session. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes place April 9 and will be televised live on NBC at 4:00 p.m. ET. MJCR

Honda concludes testing in Italy Honda concludes testing in ItalyAfter the disappointment of the Australian Grand Prix, Honda returned to Europe this week for the first of two important tests before the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in two weeks time.

The three-day test at the Vallelunga circuit in Italy saw Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and James Rossiter completing the testing duties as the team focused on chassis set-up work, tire programmes and running the latest specification engine.

Davidson and Rossiter began the test on Tuesday morning with both drivers concentrating on chassis set-up and tire evaluations to address the tire issues encountered in Melbourne and to evaluate the options for the San Marino Grand Prix. Davidson completed 120 laps, setting the fastest time of the day, with Rossiter covering 132 laps. zzzz

After flying in from the Australian Grand Prix, Button joined the team on Wednesday, taking over the testing responsibilities from Rossiter. He spent his early laps acclimatizing to the car and the circuit before running through a chassis set-up programme. Davidson worked through an intensive tire programme evaluating tires for the San Marino and European Grand Prix. Despite an early afternoon rain shower which interrupted the test programme for some time, both drivers were able to cover significant mileage, with Button completing 108 laps and Davidson completing 158 laps.

The test programme concluded on Thursday with Button continuing his chassis set-up development, alongside a tire programme looking at the best options from Wednesday's running. Davidson once again focused on tire work with an evaluation of the options for the European Grand Prix, along with further development on tire warm-up. Button completed 113 laps with Davidson running for an impressive 163 laps.

Rubens Barrichello did not test this week for the team.

Jenson Button
"Testing went well this week. The weather wasn't great yesterday as it was fairly windy and cold but actually that was perfect for us as we are doing a lot of work to see why we can't get heat into the tires or make them work when the temperatures drop. I spent the two days mostly concentrating on this along with some regular tire testing for the next races. We got some very useful info so all in all it's been a good test."

Anthony Davidson
"It was a faultless three days of testing this week with really good reliability enabling us to cover a great deal of mileage. I completed over 1800kms over the course of the test. My main focus this week was tire work, particularly looking at the options for Imola and also working on the tire warm-up issues that we have been experiencing. Although we have made good progress, there is more work to be done at Barcelona next week. Honda

Red Bull Toyota team hires Sawyer Red Bull Toyota team hires SawyerElton Sawyer, who was working with Evernham Motorsports in its driver development program, has been hired by Red Bull Racing as its Director of Competition, a team spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Sawyer is third all-time in Busch Series starts with 392. He finished fifth in points three times in the series. He also had 29 Cup starts.

Red Bull Racing will field two teams as part of Toyota's Nextel Cup effort next season. The team is owned by the energy drink company. NASCAR Daily Scene

Track News
ISC has no plans to drop a Fontana race ISC has no plans to drop a Fontana raceInternational Speedway Corp. Chief Operating Officer John Saunders says the company has no plans to move any of its NASCAR Nextel Cup races from Martinsville Speedway and California Speedway.

Answering questions during a conference call with financial analysts to discuss the company's first-quarter financial results, Saunders today said that overall weekend attendance was down at California for February, but ISC remains bullish on the Los Angeles market. He said that the move of a race from North Carolina Speedway at Rockingham for a second California event beginning in 2004 has resulted in increased ticket sales and sponsorship revenues but has not met the company's expectations.

 "While the Southwest is an underdeveloped region for NASCAR racing, we believe it is strategically important to have two major Cup weekends in the nation's second-largest media market," Saunders said. "As part of our long-term growth efforts. We are changing ticket pricing and packaging strategies, as well as adding amenities designed to enhance the fan experience.

"We remain confident in the long-term success of the California Speedway."

Entry List: 2006 BTCC Entry List: 2006 BTCC
No. Driver (NAT), Hometown, Team, Car
1. Matt Neal (GBR), Droitwich, W Midlands, Team Halfords, Honda Integra 4. Jason Plato (GBR), Oxford/Monte Carlo, SEAT Sport UK, SEAT Leon
5. Tom Chilton (GBR), Reigate, Surrey, VX Racing, Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch
6. Colin Turkington (GBR), Portadown, Co Armagh, Team RAC, MG ZS
7. Robert Collard (GBR), Eversley, Hants, Team RAC, MG ZS
8. TBA, TBA, Team RAC, MG ZS
10. Gavin Smith (IRL), Rathfarnham, Kildare, VX Racing, Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch
11. Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), Sassulolo, Italy, VX Racing, Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch
12. Mark Proctor (GBR), Bridlington, N Yorks, Fast-Tec Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R
14. James Thompson (GBR), Harrogate, N Yorks, SEAT Sport UK SEAT Leon
15. Martyn Bell (GBR), Barrow-upon-Humber, Lincs. Geoff Steel Racing, BMW E46
20. James Kaye (GBR), Winchester, Hants, Synchro Motorsport, Honda Civic Type R
24. Darren Turner (GBR) Banbury, Oxon, SEAT Sport UK, SEAT Leon
25. TBA, TBA, Team Halfords, Honda Integra
28. Jason Hughes (GBR), Preston, Lancs, Kartworld, Racing, MG ZS
52. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Dunfermline, Fife, Team Halfords, Honda Integra
55. David Pinkney (GBR), Harpenden, Beds, Motorbase, Performance      Honda Integra
66. Mark Smith (GBR), Hednesford, Staffs, InFront Motorsport, Alfa Romeo 156
77. Mike Jordan (GBR), Sutton Coldfield, W. Midlands, Team Eurotech Racing with John Guest, Honda Integra
82. Fiona Leggate (GBR), Boston, Lincs, Thurlby Motors, Boston Bowl with Tech-Speed, Vauxhall Astra Coupé
Seen in Long Beach - II Seen in Long Beach - IIChamp Car Rotax Challenge series and National Kart News on the #8 Rocketsports car of Pizzonia.  It’s a one race deal, allegedly Rocketsports has a fulltime sponsor coming on after this event.  We asked if this was a freebie for the kart series & our source said no, that they did pay to be on the car.
Seen in Long Beach - I Seen in Long Beach - IThere is a Chip Ganassi trailer in the Champ Car paddock with PKV Lola parts......word is that PKV picked up the trailer from Ganassi for their third car.
BOA hires Jill Gregory for NASCAR sponsorship BOA hires Jill Gregory for NASCAR sponsorshipBank of America today announced that it has hired former Sprint Nextel Dir of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Marketing Jill Gregory as Senior VP & Strategic Marketing Exec for its NASCAR sponsorship programs, reporting to Senior VP & Sports Sponsorship Exec Raymond Bednar. Bank of America
Roth's Big Week Roth's Big WeekA big week is just the kickoff to a big month for Indy Pro Series driver Marty Roth.

After finishing 14th and 12th April 1-2 in two races at St. Petersburg, Fla., Roth flew to Indianapolis April 5 for an IndyCar® Series test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Roth is preparing to compete in his third Indianapolis 500 at the end of May. To top off the week, Roth will marry Margaret Disher on April 8.

"It's a busy month to say the least," said Roth, who has finished 24th and 31st, respectively, in the last two Indianapolis 500s. "We're looking forward to a big party on Saturday. Then we'll be heading off to our honeymoon and coming back to do Indy."

Roth, a 47-year-old Toronto native, is a veteran of 33 starts in the Indy Pro Series, but he doesn't get many opportunities to drive his IndyCar Series machine. zzzz

"It's great to be back in the IndyCar Series car," said Roth, who has Honda power in the No. 25 Dallara for the first time. "I love that car. The Honda engine is so sweet. The power is so clean. It comes in and out of the pits - it's not jumping off the ground and burping. It's just so clean and smooth. It's a pleasure. It's like driving a street car out there. It's just smooth and fast."

Roth turned 121 laps on the 2.5-mile oval April 5, the earliest he's ever practiced for the 500. In 2004, Roth purchased the equipment for Roth Racing and practiced most of the month of May. Last year, he didn't finalize his plans until most of the month of May was over. The early preparation this year increases his expectations for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"We're here to win the Indy 500 just like everybody on this block," Roth said. "With the spec engine, this is going to be a fantastic opportunity for a lot of drivers out here. It's certainly reshuffled the deck this year. I'm really looking forward to the 500." But the 500 will have to wait - at least temporarily. The honeymoon comes first.

"We're going to head off in a sailboat and go sailing around," Roth said. "We haven't done that in a couple of years, and it's one of the things we miss doing. So we're going to head down south to the islands, jump on a sailboat and sail around."

Toyota gets more out of their Bridgestones Toyota gets more out of their BridgestonesPanasonic Toyota Racing continued its three-day test program at the Circuit Paul Ricard with drivers Oliver Panis and Ricardo Zonta at the wheel. A planned chassis change on Oliver Panis' car caused a delay in the morning; nevertheless, he hit the track in the afternoon to focus on tire testing for the Imola tire choice. Ricardo Zonta had a full day of testing also concentrating on trying different tire constructions for the next race.

Ricardo Zonta once again put in a large amount of laps and secured a good lap time for the team.

Ricardo Zonta - Chassis TF106/01
Best Lap Time: 1m04.655s
Total laps: 133
Total Distance: 507.794km

"We tried numerous things today and continued our tire test. My car was reliable and therefore I could put in a lot of laps. We will do longs runs tomorrow as we did not have enough time to finish them today, because we had to concentrate on gaining results for the Imola tire choice."

Due to a change in chassis, Olivier Panis' work day started after lunch, only to be cut short further by some set-up adjustments. zzzz

Olivier Panis - Chassis TF106/03
Best Lap Time: 1m05.524s
Total laps: 47
Total Distance: 179.446km

"We wanted to use the race chassis today, which the team did a good job of setting-up in time for the second half of the day. It turned out to be a hard day for me and my team, as we had some issues with different set-ups in the afternoon, but we are still positive and looking forward to tomorrow to finish the tire testing that we need to achieve."

General Manager Car Design and Development, Pascal Vasselon:

"Our day has been a little less productive than yesterday, but altogether we are quite advanced now in our preparations for San Marino and Nurbürgring. We are reasonably confident that we have looked at all our options for the tire choice and we will just finish up some long runs tomorrow. The most positive thing is that the weather is finally similar to race conditions, which allows us to better simulate what we can expect at coming races during the season." Source: Toyota

In 1977 the Long Beach race nearly stopped In 1977 the Long Beach race nearly stoppedMario Andretti's daring late-race pass of Jody Scheckter for victory in the 1977 Long Beach Grand Prix, then a race for Formula One cars and drivers, has long been considered the most exciting moment in the 31 years of racing on the seaside streets. Interesting story on what string Chris Pook and Bernie Ecclestone pulled at LATimes.com Lesson to be learned - never ever underestimate the power of Bernie Ecclestone. All the big manufacturers found out when he outmaneuvered and essentially squashed their threatened breakaway series. We wrote long ago that collectively they didn't possess the brain power to outsmart Bernie.
Who won what in A1GP Who won what in A1GPIn a sport not known for prize money, A1 Grand Prix has an unusually generous allocation for the top ten finishers in the Feature Race at each A1 Grand Prix of Nations. With $1,000,000 on offer at each of the 11 rounds, the grand total comes to $11,000,000, divided as follows from first place down to tenth: $300,000, $200,000, $150,000, $110,000, $80,000, $60,000, $40,000, $30,000, $20,000 and $10,000.

A1 Team France were the runaway inaugural A1 Grand Prix champions and this was reflected in their prize money tally of $1,920,000 for the team and $990,000 and $930,000 respectively for drivers Nicolas Lapierre and Alexandre Premat. By splitting the rounds between them, though, they were headed on the driver prize money list by A1 Team Switzerland's Neel Jani who clocked up £1,060,000 in prize money before relinquishing the drive with two rounds remaining to go off to concentrate on his third driver duties in Formula 1 with Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Eventual ranking in the points table isn't a guarantee of the largest prize money tally possible as some teams had their better results in the Sprint Races before stumbling in the Feature Races, thus missing the opportunity of prize money. A1 Team Great Britain was a notable underachiever in prize money for this very reason, even though the team still earned $820,000, with retirements from the Feature Race at the Brands Hatch establishing something of a trend. Feature Race disappointments were to follow at Sepang, Durban, Sentul and Shanghai. Conversely, A1 Team Netherlands ranked seventh overall, but earned the fourth largest amount of prize money.
1.   FRA - $1,920,000
2.   SUI - $1,060,000
3.   GBR - $820,000
4.   NED - $770,000
5.   CAN - $660,000
      AUS - $660,000
7.   MAL - $650,000
8.   NZL - $600,000
9.   CZE - $510,000
      MEX - $510,000
11. POR - $500,000
12. BRA - $490,000
13. GER - $360,000
14. ITA - $350,000
15. IRL - $290,000
      RSA - $290,000
17. USA - $190,000
18. AUT - $130,000
19. CHN $80,000
      PAK $80.000
20. JAP $50,000
21. INA $30,000  zzzz
1.   Jani - 1,060,000
2.   Lapierre - $990,000
3.   Premat - $930,000
4.   Kerr - $820,000
5.   Verstappen - $770,000
6.   Yoong - $570,000
7.   McIntosh - $540,000
8.   Duran - $510,000
      Enge - $510,000
9.   Parente - $500,000
10. Halliday - $460,000
11. Piquet - $380,000
12. Scheider - $360,000
13. Firman - $290,000
      Simpson - $290,000
15. Toccacelo - $250,000
16. Power - $200,000
17. Briscoe - $180,000
19. Marshall - $150,000
20. Reid - $140,000
21. Davison - $130,000
22. Carpentier - $120,000
23. Fittipaldi - $110,000
      Lauda - $110,000
      Speed - $110,000
      Fauzy - $80,000
      Jiang - $80,000
      Khan - $80,000
29. Busnelli - $60,000
30. Herta - $50,000
31. Papis - $40,000
      Fukuda - $30,000
      Giebler - $30,000
      Mikola - $30,000
35. Friesacher - $20,000
      Noda - $20,000

Cedric The Entertainer to serve as LB Grand Marshal Cedric The Entertainer to serve as LB Grand MarshalCedric The Entertainer, considered one of the finest comics in America and one of the busiest actors in Hollywood -- including his starring roles in hit films such as  "The Original Kings of Comedy," "Barbershop" and "Be Cool" -- will serve as Grand Marshal for Saturday's 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

Cedric has had additional starring roles in such hit films as "Madagascar," "Lemony Snicket," "Big Momma's House" and "Ice Age," and was the producer and star of "Johnson Family Vacation," ranked the #1 comedy film in America for two weeks in 2004.

 He has received an AFTRA Award of Excellence in Television Programming for his FOX TV series, "Cedric The Entertainer Presents…" and has been honored with four consecutive NAACP Image Awards for best supporting actor.

 "The icing on the cake for me is having the honor to serve as Grand Marshal for Saturday's Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race," he said.  "I can hardly wait to shout those famous words - 'Start your engines!' - mainly because I like to be in charge!" zzzz

Cedric will be starring in several upcoming film projects, including "The Cleaner" with Lucy Liu and "Johnson Family Vacation 2."

He is also co-owner, with Keith Wiggins, of CTE-HVM Racing, which will have Nelson Philippe and rookie Dan Clarke in the cockpits of the team's Ford-Cosworth Lola Bridgestone entries in Sunday's opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.  A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

Ticket prices range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands.  Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, Super Photo Tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.


Track News
Fans to vote on LB Drifting competition Fans to vote on LB Drifting competitionNow's YOUR chance to show those figure skating judges how it's done!  For the first time, race fans in the grandstands at this weekend's 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix  will actually be able to determine the winner of the Drifting Challenge on the streets of Long Beach.

The drifters will be organized into "Team USA" and "Team International."  After their competition on Saturday (3:10 p.m.) and Sunday (3:20 p.m.), race fans can e-mail their vote for either Team USA or Team International from their cell phone to info@announcersbooth.com.

After Sunday's action, the cumulative weekend vote will be tabulated to determine the winner of the Team USA/Team International drifting showdown.

"This will make the drifting competition more fun for everyone," said Jim Liaw, Formula Drift co-founder.  "We've been wanting to get more interactive with our fans for some time, and what better place to do it than at America's favorite street race."

Sony sells online business to CDW Sony sells online business to CDWJust as RuSPORT lands CDW as a sponsor Sony announces they are closing their online business store and turning their entire internet business over to CDW. This is HUGE. CDW currently at 58.27 let's see what this does to their stock.  We wonder if Carl Russo had anything to do with bringing them Sony.... or maybe they were watching when Justin Wilson won and want to be connected to a winner.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
12:00pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
IROC Fort Worth
1:00pm-3:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Fort Worth
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) FX
Speed World Challenge St. Petersburg, FL
3:00pm-4:00pm (R) -GT SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series  Fort Worth, TX
3:00pm-5:30pm (L) FOX
IHRA Drag Racing Season Recap; San Antonio
4:00pm-5:00pm Season Recap
5:00pm-6:00pm San Antonio SPEED
FIM World Supersport Phillip Island
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series Baytown, TX
7:00pm-8:00pm ESPN2
Speed News Saturday  
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
Tradin' Paint (NASCAR)  
8:00pm-8:30pm SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Las Vegas
8:00pm-10:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Performance  
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED
Rolex Sports Car Series Long Beach
9:00pm-11:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Champ Car Season Preview  
11:00pm-12:00am SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Industry News
ISC reports record 1st Qtr. profits ISC reports record 1st Qtr. profitsISC officials reported record financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2006, which ended Feb. 28.   Total revenue for the first quarter increased to $193.9 million, compared to revenues of $179.4 million in the previous year's period. Operating income was $78.5 million during the period, compared to $71.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2005. Net income was $44.1 million compare to $41.1 million in the prior year.

Key first-quarter events included the Grand American Rolex 24 sports car race and NASCAR's Budweiser Shootout, Daytona 500 and season-opening Busch and Craftsman Truck series events, all at Daytona International Speedway. California Speedway also hosted a Cup, Busch and truck race weekend in the quarter.

"Television and media revenues contributed to top-line growth, fueled by an approximate 15 percent increase in broadcast rights fees for the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch series," ISC President Lesa France Kennedy said. "In addition, higher corporate sponsorship and hospitality revenues, as well as other motorsports-related revenue, helped drive our overall results."

Yoong prefers A1GP over F1 Yoong prefers A1GP over F1Malaysia's only F1 driver, Alex Yoong had 16 races in Formula 1 in 2001 and 2002 with a highest finish of 7th in the 2002 Australian GP - however, he was matched against two of the most highly touted F1 rookies for team-mates. Fernando Alonso who was his team-mate in 2001 is already the youngest world champion while his 2002 team-mate, Mark Webber, is now with Williams as their no. 1 driver.

Both these team-mates of Yoong had extensive F1 test experience before making their debut in F1 - Yoong, without any F1 test experience behind him, had huge odds stacked against him. It was his dream to be in F1 but it wasn't smooth sailing for him by any measure as he had to contend with an underfunded minnow team in addition to a complete lack of testing opportunities with the Minardi team.

A year in the inaugural A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, however, had certainly turned Yoong around with a series of spirited top class drives in his Proton sponsored yellow bedecked A1 Team Malaysia car. Yoong had shown himself easily running with the top third of the 22 to 24 car field from six continents from the word go.

Before midway through the season Yoong had already shown himself capable of taking the podium and he followed up his second in the Indonesian Feature race with nearly a perfect weekend in the season finale in China by topping Friday practice, qualifying pole, fastest in the warm-up, winning the Sprint race and finishing second in the Feature race. zzzz

Yoong's stock has now shot up sky high...and he is slotted to pair with former F1 driver and Le Mans specialist Jan Lammers in not only the five-round 2006 Le Mans Series but also in the incomparable Le Mans 24 Hrs in June between the just completed A1 season and the start of the next.

When given a choice between A1 Grand Prix and Formula One, Yoong readily replied that A1 would be for him.
"You cannot compare F1 and A1GP, they are completely different," said Yoong shortly after his inaugural A1 win. "Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport in terms of technology. It is about manufacturer against manufacturer, about engine deals and about money. A1GP is run by countries, the cars are identical, it is an equal playing field. The aim is to see which is the best team and driver, it is about the people.
"I would definitely stay in A1GP, it would have to be a good deal for me to move to F1. A very good deal!"

Comic Book Heroes Take to the Streets of LB Comic Book Heroes Take to the Streets of LBLONG BEACH, CA. - Twentieth Century Fox, Marvel Comics, Drissi Advertising and Rocketsports Racing have teamed up to promote the May 26 worldwide release of X-Men 3 The Final Stand during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Look for the No. 50 X-Men 3 The Final Stand the Movie Ford Crawford competing in the Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach on Saturday April 8th.

The third of the X-Men trilogy has Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, and Rebecca Romijn returning to the big screen for what looks to be one of this summers biggest hit. Globally, the first two releases of the X-Men trilogy earned $600 million at the box office.

Both Rocketsports drivers, Tomy Drissi and Paul Gentilozzi have a combined six victories on the legendary street course of downtown Long Beach, California. “Both Paul (Gentilozzi) and I are looking forward to running the X-Men 3 The Final Stand Ford Crawford this weekend,” said Drissi, the 2000 Long Beach Trans-Am winner. “We are comfortable on this track since we have both raced here for years and look to use our track knowledge to give us an advantage over the competition.”

The Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Select will take the green flag for a 90-minute “sprint” race Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm Eastern time. SPEED will air the event on a same-day tape-delay at 9:00pm Eastern time.

See the X-Men 3 The Final Conflict trailer on-line at www.x-menthefinalstand.com. Rocketsports

A pink slip day in F1 A pink slip day in F1It's been a busy day in the world of F1 departures, with both Mike Gascoyne (Toyota) and Adrian Burgess (MF1) officially strolling out of respective doors on Thursday.

Within a few minutes of confirmation that Gascoyne and Toyota had parted company indefinitely, the Toyota-powered Midland team also released a statement revealing that its sporting director, Burgess, had also 'immediately' departed.

Silverstone-based MF1 said his exit was part of a 'planned internal re-structuring', but the only other notable change is that team manager Andy Stevenson and chief engineer Dominic Harlow will pick up Burgess' duties.

Burgess took over from predecessor Trevor Carlin last year, following the latter's rumored disagreement with team boss Colin Kolles.

Cologne based Toyota, meanwhile, also revealed on Thursday that Gascoyne has now officially left the team, but it should be added that he will remain on so-called 'gardening leave' (that is, unavailable to other teams) for the customary six month period.

Kalkhoven: We are still talking Kalkhoven: We are still talkingAt yesterday's Long Beach GP pre-race media luncheon in the Gulfstream hangar Kevin Kalkhoven was among the few who spoke during the formal presentation. He said (paraphrasing the first part, but the latter is verbatim): "This will be one of the shortest speeches you'll hear from anybody all weekend. We are still talking. Thank you," referring to he and Tony George on the Champ Car/IRL merger talks.

Needless to say, he was greeted with substantial applause.

MF1 Racing's Sporting Director Burgess leaves MF1 Racing's Sporting Director Burgess leavesMF1 Racing announces the departure of Sporting Director Adrian Burgess, effective immediately, due to planned internal re-structuring of race and test team operations.

MF1 Racing wishes to thank Adrian for his support and dedicated hard work during his time with the team. He has held the position of Sporting Director since May 2005.

"Adrian's experience and expertise were very helpful to us during the team's transition season," said MF1 Racing's Managing Director, Colin Kolles. "We wish him every success as he leaves to pursue other challenges, and we fully expect to see him back in the F1 paddock before too long."

The internal re-structuring plan provides for re-allocation of Adrian's duties among senior team members Andy Stevenson (Team Manager) and Dominic Harlow (Chief Race and Test Engineer).

Toyota makes it official - Gascoyne out Toyota makes it official - Gascoyne outToyota Motorsport and its Technical Director Chassis, Mike Gascoyne, have reached a mutual agreement which will see both parties terminate their working relationship with immediate effect. Gascoyne will remain a fully contracted employee of Toyota Motorsport until the end of October 2006.

Toyota Motorsport and Mike Gascoyne have developed different opinions about the future direction of the technical operations in the team's chassis and engineering areas, which have resulted in the need for a change on both sides. Toyota Motorsport and Mike Gascoyne have both agreed that a separation has become necessary.

Gascoyne has been based primarily in Germany since he joined Toyota's Cologne-based Formula 1 team in December 2003. After such a long period of time based away from home, this decision will enable him to spend more time with his family.  zzzz

Mike Gascoyne said: "Obviously, it is the end of an era but nobody can dispute that Toyota has made a big step forward over the last two seasons. We have now reached a crossroads in our working relationship and I believe that it is the right time for us to part ways amicably and for me to move back to the UK where I can also enjoy spending more time with my family. I extend my thanks to all members of the team and wish them a successful future in Formula 1."

Tsutomu Tomita, Chairman of Toyota Motorsport said: "Although we have reached a joint decision to go our separate ways, I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to Mike for the indisputable contribution he has made to our team over the last few years. This separation should in no way undermine the work he has done, nor reflect his technical expertise. We all wish him well for the future." Toyota

Queenslander Begins Campaign in Champ Car Queenslander Begins Campaign in Champ CarAustralia’s Will Power begins his campaign in the Champ Car World Series this weekend with the opening round in Long Beach, California.

The 25-year-old from Toowoomba in Queensland made an impressive debut in the series at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast last year before finishing the season with a top 10 position at Mexico City in only his second appearance.

Power will drive for the first-ever Australian owned and sponsored team in the Champ Car World Series, Team Australia, alongside Canadian veteran Alex Tagliani.

In its first season last year Team Australia scored a podium result in Monterrey, Mexico through Tagliani, who then went on to finish seventh overall in the championship.

All Australian eyes will be on the young Queenslander as he begins his quest to become a leading Champ Car driver in the season opener around the 76-lap Long Beach street circuit. zzzz

“I’m feeling very confident and excited this year and especially going into Long Beach this weekend,” said Power.

“It’s a new track for me and with the changes from last year I am really looking forward to getting to Long Beach and start racing again.”

Power will have to contend with one of the strongest driver line-ups in recent Champ Car history led by a bespectacled young Frenchman chasing history.

The reigning series champion Sebastien Bourdais is embarking on a campaign to become the first driver since 1948 to win three consecutive Vanderbilt Cups.

The likes of Al Unser, Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Alex Zanardi, Al Unser Jr, Cristiano da Matta have all tried but could not manage this amazing feat in one of the most competitive open wheel series in the world. Ted Horn was the last to win three in a row back in 1948.

Coming to Long Beach, Bourdais knows what it takes to win around the fabled street course. The 27-year-old Newman/Haas Racing driver started from fourth on the grid last year to score his first win at Long Beach.

“I think it is quite easy to realize that being able to stay at the top in three consecutive seasons is extremely difficult,” said Bourdais.

“The real thing that saves us is that we all realize that you can drop off very easily. If we want to say that we want to win the championship again, we our going to have to dedicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes.”

Challengers will come in a number of forms throughout the 18-car field led by Bourdais’ Newman/Haas Racing teammate Bruno Junqueira from Brazil.

Junqueira makes his return to the Champ Car World Series with this weekend’s event, strapping back into his 750-horsepower rocketship for the first time since an accident in last year’s Indianapolis 500 left him with severe back injuries.

No list of potential Long Beach and championship challengers can be deemed authentic without the name of veteran Paul Tracy from Canada. The 2003 series champion and Forsythe Championship Racing driver has earned four of his 30 career victories on the streets of Long Beach to mark his name as one of the favorites.

One of the new breed of Champ Car stars that made his way past Tracy last season returns with even bigger aspirations this season. Englishman Justin Wilson made his Champ Car debut just two years ago on the streets of Long Beach and has rapidly risen to the role of championship contender after a third place overall last year.

Plenty of interest will be surrounding the debut performance of another English driver in Katherine Legge who is the first female to compete full-time in the series.

The PKV Racing 25-year-old burst onto the racing scene last year in Long Beach when she came from mid-pack to earn her first Champ Car Atlantic victory, becoming the first female driver to win a major open-wheel race in the United States. The Champ Car Atlantics is the feeder series for drivers into the Champ Car World Series.

Legge will have a pair of veteran teammates to help her along the way as Oriol Servia and Jimmy Vasser will look to bring PKV Racing its first Long Beach win.

Servia comes off his best-ever Champ Car season, finishing second to Bourdais in the final standings while Vasser has cast aside retirement thoughts to return to the cockpit for his record 211th consecutive series start.

Other contenders in 2006 will include former Vanderbilt Cup holder in 2002 Cristiano da Matta who moves to Dale Coyne Racing, young US open wheel hope AJ Allmendinger from RuSPORT, third-year veteran at the age of 19 Nelson Philippe from CTE Racing, 2002 Gold Coast winner Mario Dominguez from Forsythe Championship Racing, former Formula 1 driver Antonio Pizzonia who is with Rocketsports Racing and a host of other young guns eager to make a name for themselves at Long Beach.

The season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Round 1 of 15) will start with qualifying sessions on both Friday and Saturday, and then the 76-lap race on Sunday.

Queensland will host Round 14 of the Champ Car World Series with the Lexmark Indy 300 to be held from October 19 to 22. The annual Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast is a partnership between the Queensland Government and IMG.

Too many cautions in NASCAR Too many cautions in NASCARIf you think too many caution flags interrupt NASCAR action these days, you're not alone. #6-Mark Martin believes excess cautions not only diminish the racing on the track but creates more conflict. "We have 10 times more cautions than we used to," Martin said. "If a drink bottle or a spring rubber falls out on the track, we have a caution flag. We used to run over starters and alternators and all kinds of stuff. We'd hit them and knock them out of the way and we could keep racing. But things have changed. We have a lot of debris cautions." As Martin points out, the cautions enable the field to pack in behind the leader, increasing the likelihood of contact — and more cautions. "Every time we pack the cars up, we have another caution," Martin says. "Then the kids get excited, run over one another and we have another one. It seems that 10-15 laps is all we can go, typically. I don't feel like we get a chance to race anymore. We run short little 10-lap bursts for 500 or 400 miles. It's not a chance to really get out there and do your business. And it's tough on the cars. They get wrecked a lot." NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said it all boils down to safety. "Perhaps we look at it a little differently than they did years ago. Perhaps they did run over some things years ago. We don't want to have anything on the racetrack at all that could pose a safety threat to drivers or the spectators." Sunday's race produced 16 cautions (only one for debris on the track) and meant 87 of the 500 laps were run under yellow. That wasn't as disruptive as the 19 cautions last October at Martinsville Speedway. USA Today
Sunny weather expected for Grand Prix Sunny weather expected for Grand PrixTwo days of rain gave way Wednesday to high winds after causing minor street flooding, downed tree limbs and traffic delays, but no reported major damage.  Forecasters expected sunshine and highs in the upper 60s this weekend for the hundreds of thousands of spectators attending the Long Beach Grand Prix this weekend.

A short respite from the recent string of storms pounding the region is expected to begin today and continue through Sunday afternoon, when the final race will be held downtown. By Sunday night, meteorologists are putting the chance of scattered showers at 30 percent.

The spring weather comes in the wake of an unusually chilly March and early April, during which temperatures failed to rise above the average 70 degrees this time of year for 36 of the past 38 days.

Schumacher fastest Wednesday Schumacher fastest WednesdaySecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working again today at Vallelunga, on the outskirts of Rome.

On track today were Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher. The Scuderia's official test driver used an F2004 fitted with a regulated power V10, working on Bridgestone tire development. The German drove the 248 F1, concentrating on development of new components and on an endurance test of the V8 power unit.

Badoer covered a total of 99 laps, setting a best time of 1'15"921; Schumacher did 127, the quickest in a time of 1'13"816.

Testing at this circuit continues tomorrow, once again with Badoer and Schumacher on track. Ferrari

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:13.831 128
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:14.753 156
 3. Button Honda (M) 1:15.445 108
 4. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:15.924 99
 5. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:16.099 101

Super Aguri car delayed further Super Aguri car delayed furtherSuper Aguri's managing director Daniel Audetto admitted their new car will be delayed until June.  Originally it was expected to be ready in May.

"The car is delayed now," he told autosport.com. "We have to make a completely new SA06 without much help from Honda, because they have to focus on their own situation.

"We think it will not be before Silverstone probably, so we have decided to go in parallel in developing the SA05 with developments that carry over to the SA06."

Speaking about the improvements expected to be fitted to the SA05, Audetto said: "We will have a new gearbox, we will get the centre of gravity lower and we will also work on the weight distribution.

"We hope to reduce the weight and also have some ballast to improve the situation. Also there will be some aerodynamics which will come from the SA06 development."

track news
Mazda and SCRAMP Relationship to Continue Mazda and SCRAMP Relationship to ContinueIRVINE, Calif.-- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced it has extended its existing contract with the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) and will remain the title sponsor of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for at least five more years.  The just-signed contract extends the two organizations' current relationship through March 2011.  The world-famous Monterey, Calif. facility is home to one of the finest natural road-racing courses in the country and has been a mainstay of professional auto and motorcycle racing since 1957. 

Mazda's support has enabled the management of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to take the track to the next level by embarking on a capital improvement plan to make it one of the finest racing facilities in the world.  In recent years, the circuit has received major improvements, including a revamped lakebed and vendor area, new permanent garages on pit lane, permanent hospitality suites and expanded runoff areas.

"Our successful partnership with SCRAMP and Laguna Seca over the past five years has made the raceway our home-away-from-home.  The two-and-a-half-mile circuit is the ultimate Zoom-Zoom for racers, race fans and Mazda enthusiasts everywhere," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of MNAO.  "And with the extension of our relationship, the best times at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are yet to come."  zzzz

During the 2005-2006 winter off-season, major changes began taking place in preparation for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix motorcycle race.  In its debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year, the MotoGP World Championship event was a sellout, attracting over 150,000 spectators and making it the largest event, and largest single weekend, in track history.  The MotoGP stars will return to Mazda Raceway in July for their only stop in North America.

Along with a complete repaving of the racing surface, the changes for the 2006 season include adding additional runoff to Turns 1, 3, 4, 6, and 7, as well as smoothing out a dip on the back straight on the steep uphill approach to Turn 8.

Most dramatic was the work needed to accommodate the additional runoff in Turn 1, the flat-out kink at the top of the start-finish hill.  Located next to a steep bluff, the only way to expand the runoff area was to cut the hillside back and tear down the historic media center in the process.  The building was razed over the winter and construction began on a new hospitality center.  All remaining work is expected to be completed by July.

During its 50 years of racing, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has established itself as the premier road-racing track in North America.  Worldwide, it is mentioned in the same breath with other historic tracks such as Le Mans, Indianapolis, Monaco and Silverstone, to name only a few.

"Mazda Raceway and Laguna Seca simply go together like gasoline and motor-racing.  A high performance car company with motorsports coursing through its veins is the perfect partner for our premier road-racing facility," said Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  "It's a privilege to be able to work with an organization such as Mazda for what will soon become an entire decade."

The latest information and event tickets for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca can be found at www.laguna-seca.com.  Remaining spectator events for the year include:

 *  May 5-7:  U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series

 *  July 21-23:  Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix featuring the MotoGP World Championship

 *  August 18-20:  Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races featuring the Cooper marque

 *  October 20-22:  Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series

SCRAMP has operated Laguna Seca Raceway since its opening in 1957.  The non-profit organization has utilized the raceway as a means to benefit local charitable and non-profit organizations while promoting economic vitality of the surrounding area.  The results have been astounding, as SCRAMP has distributed almost $12 million to over 100 Monterey Peninsula charitable and service groups over five decades in operation.  SCRAMP and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca have established themselves as the most important economic and charitable organization in Monterey County.

Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Mazda North American Operations oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.  Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario, Canada, and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

formula bmw
Another Mexican off to Europe Another Mexican off to EuropeThere was a time when promising young Mexican drivers had their eyes on North American Open Wheel Series. CART (now Champ Car) was the big objective, but nowadays they are looking to Europe once again. After the success that young Mexican driver Salvador Duran had in British F3 by becoming the 2005 champion, 16 year old driver Sergio Perez will start his Formula BMW career this weekend on the Hockenheim track in Germany. Both drivers have something in common, both are running with TELMEX money, a company that today has no business in Europe. It's sad that Telmex prefers to send drivers to series that run in Europe rather than sending them to series that run in North America. Jose Arrambide
Bessette still looking for a ride in 2006 Bessette still looking for a ride in 2006Montreal, Canada – Unable to strike a deal with a few teams in the new Champ Car Atlantic championship, Quebec’s own Antoine Bessette is seeking for a seat left in other competitive series in 2006. Negotiations with four teams did not materialize and the double Gilles-Villeneuve award winner does not want to remain idle and wants to try his luck with the very competitive prototype racers. Bessette was invited to test with 2005 GP2 champion team ART Grand Prix, but declined the offer to stay in America. 

“Up to the very last minute before the test days in Fontana, I thought I had it made with a team in the new Champ Car Atlantic series, says the 23 year old, but the agreement fell short. This is the reason why I want to find an opportunity with a team in the Grand-Am or American Le Mans series. Just spread the word. This is the path that many drivers coming out of Atlantic have followed (Valiante, Dalziel, Fogarty).” 

Still aiming for Champ Car
Even if Bessette will not enter the Champ Car Atlantic series for a second year, he is still nursing a project that will see him in Champ car in 2007. He goes on: “I want to thank the Atlantic team owners that tried to work out something with me. Obviously, I’m disappointed. I have won races in all the series I’ve entered, Formula Ford, Pro Barber Dodge, Formula Renault and Atlantic. And I got better every year. I’m sure I can be competitive in Champ Car. That’s why I’ll start working on the 2007 project right away.” zzzz

Will be in Long Beach
Antoine Bessette will be in Long Beach this coming weekend for the start of the season. He will meet with some teams and look for opportunities. “I want to thank all the fans that asked for news. They have been so important in my career so far. They need not worry, I’ll bounce back!”

Canadian events hopeful
Winners of two rounds last year in Montreal and Toronto with Team Polestar, Bessette was a Gilles-Villeneuve award winner from the Atlantic series for the driver who possesses extraordinary ability, has that special "star quality" and who has been distinguished through sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance in the face of disappointment" and Best Canadian Race Driver from the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. Bessette admits there is a possibility to see him enter all three Canadian events.

Antoine Bessette takes the opportunity to thank the large number of fans who took some time to visit his web site at www.bessetteracing.com

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ralf knew about Gascoyne exit
Test action in Europe
Ferrari president defends Schu
'Formula closed' for Canada
FIA cancel 22-team meeting
Another F1 player joins Red Bull
'My morale is low' - Barrichello
Alonso could be Schu's twin, says Flav
McLaren will be team to beat in '07 - Alonso
Fisi the author
Mondini for Imola
Frank's no sore loser
Flavio not angry with Alonso
F1 hosts warned about tobacco ads
Jan Heylen races in Champ Car World Series Jan Heylen races in Champ Car World SeriesLong Beach (California), - In 2006 Jan Heylen will race in Champ Car World Series after today signing a contract with Dale Coyne Racing. The 25 year old from Geel, Belgium made his debut for the team in a test last week at Fontana, California alongside his new team mate ex-Formula 1 driver and 2002 Champ Car champion Cristiano da Matta.

Speaking from California Jan Heylen said: “I am delighted to be able to announce signing for Dale Coyne Racing. This has come after months of hard work behind the scenes with my management and sponsors Raf Vanthoor (BergHOFF) and Harry Muermans (Muermans Group). I would like to thank everyone for their efforts. Having Cristiano da Matta as a team mate will be a great help in my first year with all his experience. I look forward to working alongside him to bring the team success. I feel Champ Cars is a great move for my career. I am very motivated to carry on from my recent successful Champ Car tests and I cannot wait for the first race which is only days away.” zzzz

Jan Heylen’s racing career in the past has been very successful. In 2005 he was crowned Renault Mégane World Series champion. Earlier successes include international F3000, F3 Euroseries and the winner of the highly prestigious Formula Ford Festival in 2002.

On the announcement of this deal, Jan Heylen will now become one of the few Belgian racing drivers ever to make it to the highest level in international motorsport. Previous Belgian legends include Thierry Boutsen and Jacky Ickx.

Champ Car World Series is the American equivalent of Formula 1. The championship consists of 15 races across America, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Australia, making it a truly international championship. The cars are all powered by a Cosworth 2.65 V8 Bi turbo engine which produces 750bhp, the same as a modern F1 car.  Press Release from Heylen's sponsors

Jan Heylen joins Dale Coyne Racing for ’06 Jan Heylen joins Dale Coyne Racing for ’06Long Beach, California,..Dale Coyne Racing is proud to announce that Belgian Jan Heylen will be joining the team as the driver of the #11 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Lola for the 2006 Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford.

Heylen, who comes from Geel Belgium, completed a successful test with the team last week at the Fontana road course.  “We looked at several things in making this decision,” commented team owner Dale Coyne.  “Jan did a great job at the test and we look forward to working with him toward a successful 2006 season.”

The 25-year-old Belgium driver brings an impressive list of credentials.  Jan started in karts during the 1990’s before moving to British Formula Ford where he eventually finished 2nd in 2002 and won the prestigious Formula Ford Festival.  In 2003 and 2004 Heylen drove a variety of Formula 3 and 3000 races showing well against season long competitors and finishing 3rd in the highly contested German F3 Championship.  His diverse skill was highlighted in 2005 when Jan won the Renault Megane Eurocup Championship.

“I am very pleased for this opportunity with Dale and American Champ Cars,” beamed the likeable Belgium.  “I have dreamed of this for some time and am very thankful to everyone that has helped me get here.”

Coming on board as additional sponsors in 2006 will be Belgium BergHOFF International, a leading worldwide kitchenware manufacturer.  BergHOFF has been a supporter of Jan’s for the past several years and looks to expand its strong European business into a similar successful model here in the United States.  zzzz

Also joining the effort is long time motorsports sponsor Muermans Group.  Muermans is a Belgium and Dutch based real estate company holding several properties in Europe as well as in Chicago.  “I like Jan very much and this was a good opportunity to reach into the United States for our company,” reported Harry Muerman, company CEO. “We look forward to racing in the United States.”  Muermans Group has a history of supporting teams and drives in Formula 1. 

The number 11 Lola will once again be headed by Arturo Morimoto as chief mechanic.  Adam Schaechter joins the team as head engineer.  The team is currently in Long Beach preparing for the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car season.  The team also plans to utilize all of the Champ Car open tests, continuing next week with the two day test at Portland International Raceway.

Hamilton, Montagny fastest at Valencia Hamilton, Montagny fastest at ValenciaLewis Hamilton  topped the timesheets for the first day of official GP2 testing at Valencia this week, however the man of the hour was former Renault F1 test driver Franck Montagny.  Montagny was third quickest overall, and the fastest runner in the afternoon session.  Champ Car missed out on a real talent letting him get away.

Morning times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:19.362 30
 2. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:19.597 30
 3. Piquet Piquet Sports 1:19.947 33
 4. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:20.017 28
 5. Gommendy iSport International 1:20.099 31
 6. Valles Campos Racing 1:20.178 33
 7. Perera Dams 1:20.318 24
 8. Di Grassi Durango 1:20.342 17
 9. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:20.403 6
10. Lapierre Arden International 1:20.424 27
11. Lopez Super Nova International 1:20.490 21
12. Ammermuller Arden International 1:20.520 22
13. Bruni Trident Racing 1:20.746 23
14. Montagny FMS International 1:20.749 12
15. Glock BCN Competicion 1:20.891 21
16. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:20.919 23
17. Zuber Trident Racing 1:20.920 31
18. Pla DPR Direxiv 1:20.985 15
19. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:21.189 33
20. Villa Racing Engineering 1:21.347 23
21. Viso iSport International 1:21.376 28
22. Monfardini Dams 1:21.536 33
23. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:21.931 16
24. Hernandez Durango 1:22.054 16
25. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:22.110 31
26. Filippi FMS International 1:22.320 29

Afternoon times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Montagny FMS International 1:19.918 34
 2. Lapierre Arden International 1:20.214 29
 3. Perera Dams 1:20.236 37
 4. Lopez Super Nova International 1:20.438 19
 5. Pla DPR Direxiv 1:20.453 26
 6. Bruni Trident Racing 1:20.520 21
 7. Ammermuller Arden International 1:20.524 24
 8. Gommendy iSport International 1:20.691 31
 9. Valles Campos Racing 1:20.720 22
10. Viso iSport International 1:20.734 29
11. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:20.821 33
12. Zuber Trident Racing 1:20.863 18
13. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:20.863 18
14. Hernandez Durango 1:20.920 19
15. Glock BCN Competicion 1:20.983 30
16. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:21.118 27
17. Monfardini Dams 1:21.178 26
18. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:21.257 31
19. Villa Racing Engineering 1:21.265 35
20. Di Grassi Durango 1:21.584 28
21. Filippi FMS International 1:21.595 18
22. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:21.673 29
23. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:21.730 16
24. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:21.812 18
25. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:23.254 12
26. Piquet Piquet Sports 1:23.950 7
27. Tahinci FMS International 1:27.923 8

Indy 500 media tour notebook Indy 500 media tour notebookUPDATE We have added a photo of Franchitti's new paint scheme below. (Photo courtesy of Ron McQueeney/IMS)

04/04/06 INDIANAPOLIS - In the area of milestones for this year's Indianapolis 500, car owner Bobby Rahal is reaching one.

It's the 20th anniversary of his victory as a driver in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." It was a powerful moment in 1986 when Rahal jumped past Kevin Cogan on a late-race restart after a caution to win the "500" in a car fielded by ailing owner Jim Trueman, who had brought Rahal into racing's highest levels and passed away shortly after the triumph.

"It's getting foggier and foggier," Rahal said of the win. "Our car had been fairly good all day, and it came down to Rick Mears, me and Kevin. Kevin did everything he could to keep me behind him but hit the wall, but our car was really good at the end of the race. We got a new lease on life with that yellow and our car was good enough."

New colors for Franchitti: Dario Franchitti's No. 27 Dallara/Honda/Firestone will sport a new black, white and gold look starting at 90th Indianapolis 500, as the colors of Canadian Club whisky will appear on the car.

Klein Tools will remain on the car as a major sponsor. The new paint scheme will be on Franchitti's car for the rest of the 2006 IndyCar Series season.

Four is enough: Michael Andretti was asked a hypothetical question about his father-son appearance in the 90th running of the "500": If his Andretti-Green team gets its five cars smoothly in the field, and his father, 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario, came up and said, "I want to drive one," what would Michael, as a car owner, say?

"Aw, he blew it," Michael said, laughing, referring to his father's testing accident two years ago. "He broke my car. He's too expensive to have in the car. I gave him his shot and he blew it."

Then he turned serious.

"No, we can't do it," he said. "We're up to 'here' right now running five cars. We don't have the infrastructure for six cars."  zzzz

Ethanol in May: Tom Slunecka, executive director of the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council, said as many as 18 ethanol plants are scheduled to open in Indiana. Fuel for the Indianapolis 500 will contain 10 percent ethanol in May and convert from methanol base to ethanol completely in 2007.

"This is no longer a Midwestern-based fuel," Slunecka said. "It's a national fuel."

When Indy cars were converted from gasoline to methanol in the '60s, it was a safety factor because methanol has a higher flashpoint than gasoline.

"We consider them virtually the same in that area," said Jeff Horton, the IRL's director of engineering, of methanol and ethanol. "Ethanol burns at 55.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and methanol at 52 degrees."

Lance's need for speed: In a taped interview after he was announced as the Pace Car driver for the 90th Indianapolis 500, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was asked to compare driving the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to racing a bike.

"I spent 20 years racing the bike professionally," he said, "so I've gotten used to that. Driving a high-powered vehicle like that is totally different. I'll have to pick the bike as easier to handle. It was a little tricky. I got three speeding tickets on the way over, so I'm looking at who to give those to so I get reimbursed."

Marco getting ready: Marco Andretti said he's still preparing for his first month of May as a driver.

"I wish I knew what it's really like," said Andretti, 19. "But it's the beauty of being a rookie, you don't know what to expect. I'm still (preparing) every race, every time I sit down in the cockpit. I know this is a place that you have to sneak up on it."

In a news conference, his Andretti-Green Racing teammate Bryan Herta spotted longtime "500" public-address announcer Tom Carnegie in the front row.

"I just figured it out," Herta said. "Tom announced 42 Indianapolis 500s before Marco was born."

Indy 500 tickets on sale: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Indianapolis 500, the 90th running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

Ticket prices start at just $20. IRL

Indy 500 test quotes Indy 500 test quotes
Indy 500 test notebook Indy 500 test notebookEddie Cheever Jr. walked into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Media Center on Wednesday morning April 5, a couple of hours before he was scheduled to return to the track at the site of his greatest victory.

"Good to see you back with your helmet," someone said in welcome.

"I never put it away," said Cheever, the 1998 winner of the "500." "All I had to do was dust it off."

He talked of his decision to join fellow "500" winner Al Unser Jr. and Michael Andretti in "comeback" runs for the Month of May.

"Our last three years as a company were difficult, as was everybody's who didn't have a Honda engine," Cheever said. "When the IndyCars went to one type of engine (Honda) this year and parity, there were too many positives not to return.

"From a personal standpoint, my father died the last year I was racing, and my heart wasn't in it the last half of the season. That's not the way I wanted to leave IndyCar racing."

Cheever said it hasn't been an easy return, but a welcome one nonetheless.

"My whole Homestead race was incredibly difficult for me as a driver," Cheever said. "I never felt comfortable in the car; I wasn't using the draft as I should've. Right now, I may be the weakest link.

"But our goal has always been to perform well with a chance to win the Indianapolis 500. I feel so lucky that I can still come out here and run on pace. Driving Indy - there's nothing compared to it.

"Last night, I felt like a 10-year-old just before Christmas, and it was going to be a good Christmas with lots of presents today because I was a good boy. (The crew) is still working at getting me up to speed. They tell me it's the first day of practice, and I'm telling them I'm having too much fun."

Cheever was seventh fastest during the one-day test at 223.367 in the No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Cheever Racing will field a second car at Indy, Cheever said.

"We'll be running two cars," he said. "I expect we'll announce a driver after Japan." zzzz

J. Lazier looking: Veteran Jaques Lazier is very hopeful of landing a ride and was on hand pounding the Gasoline Alley pavement.

"I'm very optimistic," Lazier said. "We haven't finalized anything, but we're definitely getting close. We're working with a great sponsor right now, and although we haven't finalized it, I believe it's a sponsor I can carry with me for many years.

"I think we're going to have to announce something by the Motegi race. We can get that aspect done now and focus on doing the best job we can for our sponsor."

Wheldon out first: For the record, defending winner Dan Wheldon was first away when the track opened for practice at 10:42 a.m. under a running yellow.

Practice opened 42 minutes due to cool track temperatures, so the test was extended from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

D&R skips test: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing was scheduled to take part in the test but opted out.

"With losing a car at the Homestead race, it put us behind," said team manager John O'Gara. "We just figured the time would be better spent in the workshop.

Dreyer & Reinbold is in a unique position: It has two previous winners entered, 1996 winner Buddy Lazier and two-time champion Al Unser Jr. A single team has not entered two former winners since Marlboro Team Penske saddled up Emerson Fittipaldi and Unser in 1995 - and ironically, both missed the field that year.

"I hadn't really given any thought about that," O'Gara said. "I hope we don't repeat that."

"We have three cars for Indy, and our fourth one is just missing a few bits. We'll probably have four cars over there by the time things start."

O'Gara didn't rule out running a third entry.

"I wouldn't say it's totally out," he said. "My guess is if we did it, we'd have to farm it out to somebody for some help. But I wouldn't say it's out of the question."

Veteran engineer eyes entry: Veteran engineer Roman Kuzma was on hand at the Speedway and is hoping to field a car for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. He said he has access to a car from Newman-Haas Racing.

"It's one of the backups to (Bruno) Junqueira and (Sebastian (Bourdais) last year," Kuzma said. "I'm just trying to work things out. I'm down here on a fact-finding mission. This is the most even I've ever seen the field and the first time in quite awhile that an independent can come in and do well.

"We have a car, and we're trying to work a deal for an engine package. We have people looking for sponsors and have it narrowed down to four to five drivers, veterans who can do it."

The last time Kuzma fielded a car at Indy was 1992 with rookie Kenji Momota.

Firestone keeps same compound: Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing, said it's unlikely the tire company will switch any compounds for the "500"this year.

"We had a new tire for the Homestead track, and we had run it before at Chicagoland," Speyer said. "At St. Petersburg, we had a slightly modified tread compound.

"But we've run the same tire the last two years here. It's worked really well for us and has been trouble-free. When we get the final results of this test, we'll make our decision."  IRL

NASCAR hammers more cheaters NASCAR hammers more cheatersNASCAR has announced that one member of the #07 Jack Daniel's/DirecTV Chevy team has been suspended and another has been fined, as a result of rule violations during this past Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Martinsville Speedway. Crew member Clint Almquist has been suspended from NASCAR until April 19, 2006 [misses Texas] and placed on probation until June 7, 2006 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. During Sunday’s race, Almquist on one occasion did not place racing fuel in the designated collection area. Crew chief Gil Martin was fined $2,500 for violating Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members). NASCAR PR
Track News
Demolition of LVMS infield in full force Demolition of LVMS infield in full forceUPDATE Below are some photos of the construction progress


04/04/06 LAS VEGAS - Construction crews are working in high gear demolishing buildings in the Las Vegas Motor Speedway infield in preparation for the new fan-interactive garage area, media center and track resurfacing. After two weeks of soft demolition, construction crews have knocked down Garage 2 and are in the process of tearing down Garage 3. Speedway officials expect to raze the media center early next week "Watching these buildings being torn down is a major sign of progress for this speedway," said LVMS general manager Chris Powell. "This is an exciting time at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Once these projects are completed, this speedway will have distinguished itself from all others."

In addition to tearing down the garages, much of the catch fencing and SAFER barriers around the 1.5-mile superspeedway have been removed. Sod has been extracted from the tri-oval to make way for the new pit road, which will be approximately 200 feet closer to the grandstand. Crews will begin the process of moving pit road and re-banking the speedway from 12 to 20 degrees in late April. Once completed, the multi-million project will create a new fan-friendly garage area, a pit road that is much closer to the grandstands, a faster and more competitive racing surface and a new state-of-the-art media center.

The track resurfacing and pit road relocation project will be completed in time for the Sept. 23 Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. The new fan-interactive garage area is scheduled to open for the 2007 NASCAR Weekend. LVMS

Dixon tops first day of Indy test Dixon tops first day of Indy testTarget Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon paced an IndyCar Series Open Test at the Indianapolis Speedway. Dixon set the fastest time of the day, 39.8209 seconds, 226.012 mph, in his No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara. Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. was second quick with a lap of 39.9369 seconds, 225.355 mph.

Dixon's teammate, reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, was third quickest with a lap of 40.0980, 224.450 mph with 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick fourth and Kosuke Matsuura fifth.

A total of 1,408 incident-free laps were turned on the 2.5-mile oval. Helio Castroneves recorded 127 laps, the most of any driver at the test.

A total of 17 cars participated in the one-day test, including Indy Pro Series veteran Marty Roth, Rahal Letterman Racing's newest addition Jeff Simmons and Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter, who sat out the first two IndyCar Series events following an accident with the late Paul Dana on March 26.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, which was slated to participate in the test with driver Buddy Lazier, did not participate choosing to concentrate on preparations for the Indy Japan 300.

Pos Driver Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) 39.8209 226.012
2 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 39.9369 225.355
3 Dan Wheldon (10) 40.0980 224.450
4 Danica Patrick (16) 40.2025 223.867
5 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 40.2312 223.707
6 Helio Castroneves (3) 40.2479 223.614
7 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 40.2924 223.367
8 Tomas Scheckter (2) 40.2968 223.343
9 Bryan Herta (1) 40.3613 222.986
10 Scott Sharp (8) 40.4030 222.756
11 Buddy Rice (15) 40.5182 222.122
12 Vitor Meira (4) 40.5927 221.715
13 Tony Kanaan (11) 40.7392 220.917
14 Dario Franchitti (27) 40.8388 220.379
15 Jeff Simmons (17) 40.8472 220.333
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 40.9791 219.624
17 Marty Roth (25) 41.7325 215.659 IRL

Kovalainen fastest at Paul Ricard Kovalainen fastest at Paul Ricard
1. KOVALAINEN Renault 1m04.927s
2. DE LA ROSA McLaren 1m05.028s
3. KUBICA BMW Sauber 1m05.075s
4. ZONTA Toyota 1m05.291s
5. PAFFETT McLaren 1m05.534s
6. PANIS Toyota 1m05.754s
7. VILLENEUVE BMW Sauber 1m05.812s
8. DOORNBOS Red Bull 1m06.420s
’06 Champ Car Preview Radio Show ’06 Champ Car Preview Radio ShowMidweek Motorsport previews the Champ Car World Series. Mark Cipolloni of www.autoracing1.com joins Declan Brennan and John Hindhaugh to look at the prospects for the forthcoming Champ Car season in the run-up to the opener at Long Beach on Sunday. We will have exclusive interviews with Champ Car CEO Steve Johnson and friend of the show, rookie Dan Clarke.  Steve Johnson will be talking frankly about the upcoming season and the potential prospects for a merger between the two major open wheel series in the USA and it's not to be missed.
Nick Daman will reflect on an extraordinary Australian GP and we have a surprise guest who will be talking about his invitation to join the grid for the first GP Masters event of the season.
Tim Gray is live in Valencia to give us the latest from GP2 testing and Declan Brennan will be back to give his latest betting tips.
To catch the show live, tune in at 0157 on the Sky platform or at www.0157.org and www.radiolemans.com. If you have any comments or questions for the panel or the guests, please email them to us at studio@0157.org.
Midweek Motorsport is broadcast live from London at 8pm GMT in the UK or 2pm EST in the USA. After transmission, the show is available on demand from www.0157.org and it can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes
CTE Racing - HVM sports new lineup for '06 CTE Racing - HVM sports new lineup for '06
Nelson Philippe, #4 CTE Racing – HVM/Ford-Cosworth/Lola
Champ Car Starts: 24   Best Start: 6th  (San Jose ’05) Best Finish:7th (Mex. City’05)

Champ Car’s Rising Star: Philippe ended the 2005 season on a high note, on and off the racetrack.  He earned his career best finish at Mexico City and later that day, was honored by his peers with the Bosch “Most Improved Driver” award at the series banquet.  At just 19 years of age, Philippe is approaching his third Champ Car season.

NELSON PHILIPPE: “I am psyched to finally be racing again. It feels like it has been a very long off season, but in that time I have prepared myself to be the best I can be in 2006. I am very happy to be driving for CTE Racing, my relationship with the team is very good and I can’t wait to see how we all work together during the race weekend.  I have high expectations not only for this race, but for the entire season.  I am excited to meet my new boss Cedric “The Entertainer”, that will be cool. We didn’t do a lot of testing so it will be interesting to see how we stack up, we’ll know Saturday after qualifying.  That being said, the testing we did do at Sebring was very successful, so that is encouraging.  I love street circuits, I find Long Beach challenging, demanding, very bumpy and fast.  It will be interesting to see how turn one has changed and how the new layout will be under braking.  I am stoked, that’s all I can say!”

Dan Clarke, #14 CTE Racing -HVM/Lola/Ford-Cosworth
Champ Car Starts: 0

Learning the Ropes: Clarke’s first visit to the beautiful, sunny California was in 2003 as he traveled with an Australian Pink Floyd tribute band. The band, which sponsored Clarke, had their first official gig at the House of Blues. While Clarke has much experience racing in Europe in British F3, this is only his second event on a street circuit. However, after this weekend he will have two of the most famous street races under his helmet; Long Beach and Macau.

DAN CLARKE: “Wow! I am so excited to be here racing in Champ Car and especially to be racing for CTE Racing- HVM. I’ve dreamt of racing in the Long Beach Grand Prix all my life. I’ve been fortunate to race on many of the world’s best road courses, but this is only my second race on a street circuit in my career. So I still have some things to learn, but I feel fortunate to have some of the best people in the paddock to learn from and an experienced teammate like Nelson. My goal for the weekend is to keep my head down and focused and, ideally, to leave Long Beach as the top finishing rookie.”

Honda forms partnership with NCE Honda forms partnership with NCEThe Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce the signing of an agreement with NCE Computer Group & Associates for the 2006 season which sees NCE become an official Team Supplier.

As one of the leading names in the data storage industry, NCE along with its associates DataCore Software, Nexsan Technologies and Spectra Logic, has enabled the Honda Racing F1 Team to introduce an IT storage architecture which offers scalability and centralized storage management. Such facilities are fundamental for key applications in the design of the Honda Racing F1 Team RA106 car, such as Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM), plus everyday use of still images, video footage, email, documents and spreadsheets.

In addition to providing the Scalable Data Storage Solution to the team, the NCE & Associates logo will feature on the team trucks and in the Paddock Club environment for the remainder of the 2006 season.

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team, commented: "We are very pleased to welcome NCE & Associates to the Honda Racing F1 Team. Data storage is a critical element of a Formula One team's operations and we are pleased to have partnered with one of the best providers in the business. We look forward to sharing our on-track successes with NCE through the remainder of the season."

Jim Raven, Managing Director of NCE said: "Whilst a selection of NCE customers have prestige and strong brand awareness within their respective market sectors, it is fair to say that none have the brand awareness and public profile to match that of the Honda F1 Racing Team. NCE are well positioned as one of the leaders in our industry and our association as a Team Supplier to the Honda F1 Racing Team means that we have partnered a leader on the Formula One circuit. I know that our Data Storage solution back at the Team Operations Centre mirrors the same principles of performance and reliability which is expected by the team on the circuit. It's a good feeling to turn on the television on a Sunday afternoon and watch a Honda car at the front of the action, knowing that your company, in some way, has helped the team to achieve that goal."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
USAC -Silver Crown Homestead-Miami
8:00am-9:00am The Outdoor Channel
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
3:30pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
IRL Indy Pro Series St. Petersburg
4:00pm-5:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Fort Worth
4:30pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA Stylefest Denver
5:00pm-5:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
6:30pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
IROC Fort Worth
7:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
Art Mann Presents... Motorized Insanity
9:00pm-9:30pm HDNet
NASCAR Trackside Fort Worth
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of Friday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

MJ teams up with McAtee for Long Beach MJ teams up with McAtee for Long BeachGardena, California - MJ Motorsports Principal Michael James announced today that the MJ Motorsports organization will team up with the McAtee Motorsports effort to run Kyle Kelley and Brian McAtee in the opening round of the 2006 Yokohama Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.

“Everybody at MJ Motorsports is excited to be partnering up with McAtee Motorsports as the new ChampCar Atlantic season is about to get underway,” James said. “We worked together at California Speedway for the first official test sessions for the new Swift 016.a and have both benefited from the partnership. As we have yet to finalize our driver package this will allow us to participate in our home event, while McAtee Motorsports can utilize our experience in developing new chassis.”

"The upcoming association with MJ Motorsports will be a welcome change, with having an all new chassis and competitors this year, additional input from a proven winner like Michael is wonderful," said Dale McAtee (Team Owner). "In addition to MJ, McAtee Motorsports has brought in a few other key personal, including Rennie Clayton, 2003 Formula Atlantic SCCA National Champion, as engineer and Marc Garrison as chief mechanic." zzzz 

MJ Motorsports was formed in 2005 by Michael and Jennifer James from the Star Race Cars factory team that developed the current Pro Formula Mazda and engineered Michael McDowell, who participated in two Champ Car events in 2005, to the 2004 Star Mazda Championship title. In 2005 MJ Motorsports fielded entries for Marco Andretti and Ross Smith in the Star Mazda Championship, guiding both to top ten finishes.

Based in San Clemente, California, McAtee Motorsports brought Kyle Kelley and Brian McAtee to the Atlantic championship in 2005 after competing in the West Coast Star Mazda Championship. McAtee Motorsports competed for several years in the Star Mazda Series with several poles and wins. The team moved to the Atlantic series in 2005 running limited races and is looking forward to the full season in 2006 “

The 2006 Atlantic title chase is going to be intense with a lot of solid teams and drivers,” James explained. “With the introduction this year of the new Swift 016.a everybody is starting with a clean sheet of paper as they learn how to set up this racecar. We feel that our recent experience in developing the Pro Formula Mazda will give us an edge as we work with McAtee Motorsports to develop this car.”

For the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend the partnership will operate out of the MJ Motorsports transporter, with final race weekend preparations taking place just down the road from the temporary 1.968-milestreet circuit at the MJ Motorsports headquarters in Gardena, California Round One of the championship will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by Speed Channel at 1 pm Eastern Time on Sunday, April 16th. For more information, please visit the official ChampCar Atlantic website at http://www.champcaratlantic.com.

About MJ Motorsports: Founded in 2005, MJ Motorsports was formed by Michael and Jennifer James to help recognize and develop young motorsports talent in the Star Mazda and Champ Car Atlantic Series. The team operates out of their new facility in Gardena, California. Inquiries regarding MJ Motorsports should be directed to: Michael James Team Principal MJ Motorsports Inc. 16422 S. Avalon Blvd Gardena, Ca 90248 (310) 538-2689 McAtee Motorsport Contact: Tony Ivy Team Manager 33555 Camino Capistrano San Juan Capistrano, Ca 92675 (949) 234-4304

Better results at latest Lowe's test Better results at latest Lowe's testOfficials from NASCAR, Lowe's Motor Speedway and Goodyear met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the results of a second tire test at the newly paved 1.5-mile track, with everyone apparently feeling better than they did after last week's initial test.

"Goodyear officials were a lot more optimistic," said Jerry Gappens, the track's senior vice president. "They brought a completely new tire and they did not encounter the challenges they had last week with the higher speeds, excessive wear and higher tire temperatures."

Kevin Harvick and Dale Jarrett participated in Tuesday's test.

Goodyear built a totally different tire, with new construction and a harder compound, and Gappens said cars were about one second per lap slower than last week, a drop of about 6 mph. There were no apparent issues with excessive wear or high temperatures.

"Give Goodyear credit. They have worked hard the past week to produce a tire that is safe for the competitors and compatible with the new track surface," Gappens said.

"After (Tuesday's) test, they feel they have a tire that will work well here and provide an entertaining two weeks of racing for the fans."   More at ThatsRacin.com

Red Bull poaches from Renault Red Bull poaches from RenaultRed Bull Racing is pleased to announce that Keith Saunt will be joining the team as Operations Director. With more than 15 years experience in Formula One, Keith will join the team from Renault later this year. Red Bull Racing
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
European testing gets back in gear
Montoya slams Raikkonen
Imola to honor Villeneuve's father
Alonso expects 'dangerous' rivals
No scarlet dream for champion Alonso
Super Aguri defends Toro Rosso protest
Schu to work on Imola car upgrade
Symonds to stay at Renault
Fisi, Franck, unite in GP2
PPI replaces Crew Chief PPI replaces Crew ChiefPPI Motorsports officials say Gary Putnam will take over as crew chief of the No. 32 Chevrolet driven by Travis Kvapil in NASCAR's Nextel Cup Series. Putnam, who was the team's competition director, will immediately assume the duties of James Ince. Officials say Ince, who also served as team manager, has been released to pursue other opportunities. Daily Scene
Industry News
Sales record for Mercedes Sales record for MercedesMercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) today reported its highest March on record with sales of 21,417 new vehicles, an increase of 17.9 percent over last March, bringing year-to-date total sales to 51,242 new vehicles, a 17.1 percent increase compared to the first quarter 2005.

Passenger car sales of 16,756 units showed an increase of six percent (955 units) over March 2005. Highlights include E-Class sedan and wagon sales of 3,884, an increase of 7.6 percent over last March, and CLK-Class coupe and convertible sales of 2,551, a 33.8 percent increase from March 2005, making this the model line’s best March ever.

As a group, sales for Mercedes vehicles in the luxury light truck segment -- M-, R- and G-Classes -- had a significant 96 percent increase over March 2005. In May, Mercedes will continue to expand its presence in the luxury light truck segment with the introduction of the GL-Class, the first European full-sized luxury SUV.

F1 race was big boost to Bahrain F1 race was big boost to BahrainIt is a fact that Bahrain’s economy experienced a big boost after the BIC was launched and this years F1 race season had a great start in the Kingdom. The Kingdom had the whole world watching the event as well as the efficiency with which the country geared up and handled so many tourists.

On their part, Budget Car Rental, a service offered by Fakhro Transport W.L.L., did a record number of transfers from airport to the circuit and from all the leading hotels to the circuit. Gearing up for the event, the Company had added 100 brand new cars to their fleet.

Mr. Jacob Thomas, General Manager, said, “Here was a great opportunity for Budget Bahrain to showcase the hospitality offered unilaterally by the entire community in the Kingdom of Bahrain”. He added, “Our new fleet of cars included, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Ford, Nissan etc…” Apart from transferring visitors to the Circuit and back, the company also served the teams and celebrities who visited Bahrain.

As a preparatory effort for the F1 race in Bahrain, Budget Car Rental, Bahrain had tie-ups in place with leading tour operators in Europe who chose the organization as their preferred partner to provide the service. Budget Rent-A-Car is the country’s premier car rental company and offers the largest vehicle rental fleet in Bahrain with over 1,000 cars. Budget Rent-A-Car an ISO 9002 certified company, is one of the longest serving car rental companies in the region with the Bahrain office having been set up here 24 years ago. The company has its main office in Manama and for the convenience of travelers also has an airport branch.

Budget Car Rental, part of the Abdulla Yousif Fakhro & Sons BSC© is continually expanding and has recently opened an additional office in Almoayyed Towers to service the Seef Area. Budget

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